Day 6 of our underwater journey continues with marine protected areas (MPAs).
MPAs help protect fish living on coral reefs by safeguarding certain types of fish that are vital to the reef’s ecosystem. However, creating a management program costs money and many of them do not have adequate staffing or financial resources to be effective. Luckily there are creative solutions being developed around the world to create self-sustaining MPAs, such as the Roatan Marine Park (RMP).
In 2009, we helped RMP develop a business plan and from that plan they have become 100% self-sustaining financially. They’ve created merchandise shops that bring in a third of their total revenue; another third comes from the sale of voluntary dive tags. In 2015, RMP received a $12,000 grant to hire a sustainable finance coordinator who has since multiplied that initial grant to cover position costs for several years. In fact, RMP has been so successful at harnessing their fundraising potential that they have expanded their activities to include educational programs for local schools, an extensive marine infrastructure program and designing and implementing tourist education programs.
A properly-managed and funded MPA can be used to protect the marine life and generate revenue to further improve and enhance the MPA.