Bonefish & Tarpon Trust (BTT) and Turneffe Atoll Sustainability Association (TASA) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to advance marine conservation in Belize.
“We are appreciative and thankful to Bonefish & Tarpon Trust for their invaluable support and partnership in one of our foundational programs aimed at managing the Turneffe Atoll Marine Reserve,” said TASA Executive Director Valdemar Andrade. “Securing this kind of support is a challenging and vital endeavor, as it hinges on the involvement of individuals with the necessary expertise and resources. The collaboration with BTT will not only offer technical support but also assist in researching technological innovations that will enhance and propel our program forward.”
Through the MOU, BTT will support the continued development of TASA’s Adaptive Management Program (AMP), which is designed to ensure the long-term sustainability of flats fishing as well as that of other recreational and commercial fishing, and to manage the growing ecotourism activities within the Turneffe Atoll Marine Reserve. BTT will join TASA’s other partners in helping to define the management needs of the recreational flats fishery and collaboratively conducting the research and monitoring necessary to meet those needs. Additionally, BTT and TASA will collaborate in other areas of mutual interest, including education and outreach programs.
“Turneffe Atoll is one of the world’s greatest marine protected areas and a bucket-list destination globally for recreational anglers,” said BTT President and CEO Jim McDuffie. “Protection and management of this valuable resource is entrusted to TASA and the many stakeholders and partners it has engaged over the years. We are so very pleased to join them and to pledge our collaboration and support to the mission.”
The flats fishery in Belize, and particularly at Turneffe Atoll, is economically and ecologically important and knowledge of its ecological status is essential for effective management. Through their new partnership, TASA and BTT will support a multisectoral, multistakeholder Flats Fishing Working Group that will guide the development of a Flats Fishery Management Strategy for the Turneffe Atoll Marine Reserve.
In addition to the Flats Fishing Working Group, BTT will also help support the position of Education & Outreach Coordinator to advance the Adaptive Management Program and other TASA programs in communication and outreach. BTT’s grant for these purposes was graciously matched by a generous gift from another group, Global Conservation, a long-time supporter of TASA. This partnership also has match in support of TASA’s Adaptive Management Program from the private sector entity of the Turneffe Flats via Turneffe Enterprizes Limited.
The Turneffe Atoll Sustainability Association’s mission is to create a self-sustaining and resilient world class marine reserve through innovative and adaptive interventions for the benefit of the people and country of Belize.
Turneffe Atoll is the most developed of the three atolls within Belize’s territorial waters and broader Meso- American Barrier Reef System, boasting a complex assemblage of diverse ecosystems, coral reef crest fringes, lagoons, wetlands and over 11,000 hectares of mangrove cover.