Healthy Reefs Initiative gives good marks to Belize and neighbours

Today is Meso-American Reef Day and the Healthy Reefs Initiative has released its biennial assessment of management targets for a healthy reef system shared among Belize, Mexico, Honduras and Guatemala. According to the 2016 “Eco-Audit,” regional management of the Meso-American Reef System has improved steadily. Presenting the results is Dr. Melanie McField, Director of the Healthy Reefs Initiative:  The region’s average of 62 percent, means that that many of the targets were reached. However, just three of the 28 targets are fully implemented. Improvements were measured in six of seven categories, lagging behind only in sewage and sanitation. 36 percent of territorial seas are inside marine protected areas, better than the 20% targeted; there is greater reporting and monitoring and more education and awareness. While Belize leads its neighbors in terms of total scores, we trailed in the number of improvements made in the last two years compared to them. However, according to Dr. McField, there is more to come that didn’t make it into this year’s report:  Belize can be proud of leading in fisheries protection, with a new Coastal Zone Management plan, and watershed management plans as well as moving to improve alternative livelihoods for fishers in protected areas and implementing managed access in some protected areas. Trailing are Mexico, Honduras and Guatemala in that order. Collectively, the region has seen fair health for the reef but as always, there is still more to be done. Roberto Pott, Belize’s coordinator for Healthy Reefs Initiative, says that while Belize claims a majority of the reef, it cannot go it alone:vlcsnap-2016-03-11-12h11m32s110 vlcsnap-2016-03-11-12h11m25s613

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