Developing a Shared View on the Status of Belize’s Fisheries

Credit: Brian Skerry

Supporting Ecologically and Economically Sustainable Fisheries in Belize

The Belize Barrier Reef is the longest such reef structure in the Western Hemisphere and in many ways the heart of the entire Mesoamerican Reef ecosystem. It also supports ecologically and economically important commercial, recreational, and subsistence fisheries. Extensive scientific data are available on many of these fisheries, as well as on the biology of the most important animals targeted, including conch, lobster, and key fish species. Much of the available data points to significant concerns with the sustainability of key fisheries, which must be addressed for these fisheries to reach and maintain their economic potential.

In February 2023, The Summit Foundation launched a project to compile and assess the best available scientific information on Belize’s commercial and recreational fisheries and engage in dialogue with fisheries stakeholders in Belize to reach a common understanding of the current state and potential of the resources. The hope is that this will lead to a shared vision of the desired future for this important sector and ideas about how best to achieve that vision. The project aims to support the Government of Belize in its work to develop sustainable fisheries as part of its growing Blue Economy.

The project team brings together global expertise in fisheries science and management, and includes the Sea Around Us, a research initiative at the University of British Columbia, MRAG Americas, the Environmental Law Institute, Comunidad y Biodiversidad, the Healthy Reefs for Healthy People Initiative, and Dr. Alexander Tewfik.

Project webpage

Project Facebook page


Measured Decline in Reef Health Continues

Credit: HRI

Healthy Reefs for Healthy People Initiative 2022 Report Card Documents Fifth Year of Declining Ecosystem Health

The Healthy Reefs for Healthy People Initiative (HRI) released its latest Mesoamerican Reef Report Card in December 2022. Working with more than 70 partners across the region, HRI collects data on the condition of the ecosystem, measuring corals, harmful algae, and important fish species, and computes a Reef Health Index.

The 2022 report shows that, after a decade of improvement, overall reef health has declined over the past five years and now is at its lowest level since HRI’s measurement began in 2006. Driving this drop is a gradual increase in harmful fleshy macroalgae, which is linked to nutrient pollution and a decrease in herbivorous fish, and a dramatic decline in herbivorous and commercial fish biomass, particularly in Belize.

Science-based management reforms are needed throughout the region to reform and rebuild currently unsustainable fisheries, address nutrient pollution from inadequately treated sewage and agricultural run-off, and dramatically increase the coverage of fully protected fish refuges.

Healthy Reefs Initiative

Report card media release

Innovative MAR+Invest Conservation Finance Project Launched

Credit: Brian Skerry

Global Fund for Coral Reefs Awards Mesoamerican Reef Fund and Partners $1.7M Grant for Inception Phase of New Effort

Responding to the need to reverse the declining trajectory of reef health as well as bolster investment and business opportunities in the region, the Mesoamerican Reef Fund (MAR Fund) and partners launched MAR+Invest in July 2022 as an innovative blended finance mechanism focused on cultivating regional reef-positive business opportunities across the region. Services provided by MAR+Invest include identifying promising business initiatives; providing capacity building, mentoring, and finance solutions; attracting additional funding/investment; and conducting environmental monitoring and analysis for the initiatives in its portfolio. By fostering enabling conditions for businesses that protect and better reef health while generating returns, MAR+Invest looks to close the gap in capital needed for regional marine conservation while creating income-producing opportunities for coastal communities.

MAR+Invest is a region-wide collaboration of Mesoamerican Reef Fund, the Healthy Reefs for Healthy People Initiative, Sureste Sostenible’s MAR Leadership Program, Fondo Mexicano para La Conservación de la Naturaleza, and New Ventures/Viwala, bringing together regional experts in reef monitoring and evaluation, capacity building and development, finance, impact investing, and innovation.

MAR Fund MAR+Invest

GFCR announcement