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CZMAI participates in the Belize National Replenishment Zones Expansion Project

by on Dec 12th, 2013

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Background

Currently fishery replenishment zones, also known as “no-take” zones, represent about 3% of Belize’s territorial sea.  Although they incorporate five key habitat types (coral reef, open sea, seagrass, sparse algae/sand, and mangrove/littoral forest), the effectiveness of these “no-take” zones in replenishing fisheries stocks and enabling the recovery of damaged or degraded ecosystems is limited in part by their small size and fragmented nature.  Their effectiveness is also limited by the mobility of many species of fisheries concern and the effects of both proximate and distant pressures, including poor land-use practices and climate change.  Expansion of protected zones that prohibit extraction of fish – and, quite possibly, other extractive activities – is essential to enhancing the prospects for success of the country’s MPA and broader fisheries and marine habitat management.

For several years, the Belize Fisheries Department and several NGOs have been collaborating to expand “no-take” zones within the country’s existing marine reserve system while also undertaking technical analyses and other activities aimed at setting priorities for “no-take” zones beyond these marine reserves.  These actors have now committed to collaborate on a national “no-take” expansion program for Belize.  The current project will finalize a national plan for “no-take” expansion, establish the structure and partnerships to take the plan forward, and organize and build on the activities of both government and non-government actors to implement and fulfill the objectives of the national plan.

Project Summary

The goal of the project is aimed at meeting the combined needs of conservation and restoration of biodiversity and fisheries, ecological integrity and ecosystem services, and resilience to climate change, while also benefiting the livelihoods of people. The expansion will also assist Belize in fulfilling its international obligation as a signatory to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity to conserve by 10% of all marine and coastal ecological regions by 2020 in a representative network of MPA’s that, based on the recommendation of the Vth World Parks Congress in 2003, ‘should include strictly protected areas that amount to at least 20-30% of each habitat’. Furthermore, an expansion of “no-take” areas in Belize would strengthen the protection of our Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System World Heritage Site, while also contributing to the biodiversity conservation objectives of the Ramsar Convention and the Cartagena Convention and its protocol.  The project is guided by a Project Steering Committee and a Technical Sub-Committee.

The Project Steering Committee

The steering Committee of Belize National Replenishment Zones Expansion Project is responsible for overseeing implementation of this three-year project to promote the expansion of “no-take” of fishery replenishment, zone s nationally in Belize to reach a target of 20% of the country’s territorial sea by 2015.

Role of Steering Committee

The Steering Committee is the decision-making body for the project, making recommendations on the designation of 20% of the territorial sea of Belize as “no-take” or replenishment areas, and deciding on the content and implementation of communications campaign to promote these designs.

Composition of National Steering Committee

The National Steering Committee consists of representatives from the following:

  • Belize Fisheries Department
  • National Protected Areas Secretariat
  • Forest Department
  • Association of Protected Areas Management Organization (APAMO)
  • Coastal Zone Management Authority
  • Ministry of Tourism and Culture
  • Belize National Coast Guard
  • Healthy Reefs Initiative
  • The Nature Conservancy
  • Environmental Defense Fund
  • Belize Fishermen Co0opertative Association
  • Belize Fishermen Federation
  • Wildlife Conservation Society- Secretary (ex officio)

Technical Sub- Committee

The Technical Sub-Committee (TSC) is responsible for overseeing the spatial analysis and mapping of the replenishment zone expansion to a target of 10% of Belize’s territorial sea.  The TSC reports directly to the Steering Committee.  The TSC is chaired by a member of the Steering Committee.

More specifically, the TSC ensures that the analysis and mapping builds on the 2005 National Gap Analysis that was completed as part of the National Protected Area Policy and System Plan, and conforms to approve guiding principles to identify priority areas of the marine system that are currently under-represented in the protected area network.  This process will also link to, and integrate with, broader fisheries management and marine spatial planning priorities, such as the managed access program, which is closely linked to the MPA network,  the national rationalization process for protected areas that is about to be finalized, and the Belize Integrated Coastal Zone Management Plan that has been developed.

Marxan is the most widely used systematic reserve planning software in the world and was used to produce the 2005 National Gap Analysis.  The TSC is working with experts to guide an updated Marxan analysis using all available data layers.  The TSC is overseeing the production of a post-analysis tool to facilitate the interpretation and refinement of the Marxan results.

Role of Technical Sub- Committee

The Technical Sub- Committee (TSC) reports to the Steering Committee and keeps them informed of the mapping exercise.  Ultimately, the TSC makes recommendations for the designation of at least 10% of the territorial sea of Belize as replenishment.

Composition of Technical Sub- Committee

  • Ramon Carcamo, Belize Fisheries Department
  • Chantalle Clarke, Coastal Zone Management Authority
  • Larry Epstein, Environmental Defense Fund
  • Roberto Pott, Healthy Reefs Initiative
  • Julie Robinson, The Nature Conservancy
  • Virginia Burns, Wildlife Conservation Society
  • Dr. Leandra Cho-Ricketts, Environmental Research Institute, University of Belize
The Technical Sub-Committee met in mid-December 2013 to assess draft national recommendations for the expansion of existing replenishment zones using post-analysis outputs from MARXAN Analyses
Left to Right
Janet Gibson (WCS), Chantalle Clarke (CZMAI), Virginia Burns (WCS), Seleni Cruz (TNC), Roberto Pott (Healthy Reefs), Julie Robinson (TNC)
Not Pictured
Ramon Carcamo (Fisheries Department), Dr. Leandra Cho-Ricketts (ERI/UB)

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