Protecting a Lagoon and its People

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Imagine sitting in a small boat on the Laguna de Los Micos on the northern coast of Honduras, just a few miles west of Tela. You’re enjoying a sunny day in the lagoon surrounded by green mangroves, birds singing to one another and monkeys playing among the branches. In the distance, you see local fishermen making their livelihoods, casting lines and nets from offshore hoping for a catch.

Unfortunately, the lagoon is under constant threat from overfishing by outside communities who are not complying with the local fishing regulations. In turn, overfishing causes a decline in populations of the reef fish that depend on lagoons as nurseries for their young. Fortunately, the recently passed Ministerial Decree 108-2017 is designed to protect this vital water source that provides food and income for the surrounding 13 communities.

Since 2011, CORAL’s Honduras field team and our partners have worked collaboratively in Tela to encourage communication and cooperation among local communities, organizations and government entities. After several years of supporting and working hand in hand with these entities, the Tela Environmental and Protected Areas Interinstitutional Committee was formally recognized and tasked with bringing together all the key players to protect the natural coastal and marine resources of Tela Bay.

In 2015, after successfully creating a patrol program during the closed season, the Committee started discussing solutions to protect the lagoon from unsustainable fishing practices. After two years of meetings between the Interinstitutional Committee and affected communities, they agreed to new fishing regulations which were passed as a law by the Honduran Livestock and Agriculture Secretariat in April 2017. Through successful enforcement of the Ministerial Decree’s stricter fishing regulations and priority access for local fisherman, the idyllic scene I described earlier of the thriving lagoon providing livelihoods for the local community will become a near-term reality for Laguna de Los Micos.

Laguna de Los Micos and Community Members; Photos by CORAL Staff

Laguna de Los Micos and Community Members; Photos by CORAL Staff

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