CORAL and its partners worked for many years to have two important reefs systems off the Honduras coast–Cordelia Banks and Capiro Banks–declared as federally protected Sites of Wildlife Importance. These designations–in 2013 and 2014–will lead to permanent protection for the reefs and more than 800 endangered elkhorn coral colonies.
CORAL is also working to develop local interest in and capacity for managing coral reef resources. We work with local businesses (dive operators and hotel staff), government agencies, local NGOs, and fishermen. We are now working to establish a network of marine protected areas in the Bay Islands and mainland and helping solidify a management system for it. In addition, we have begun to investigate water quality problems caused by poor wastewater management. Some of our work in 2014 includes training dive operators in sustainable marine recreation practices, training government officials in ecosystem-based management concepts, participatory mapping of stakeholder interests in Tela (to support a new marine protected area), initiating a water quality campaign, and bringing together Utilians (in the form of a coalition) to develop conservation initiatives for Utila.
CORAL has partnered with the community for many years to implement voluntary standards for marine recreation. And to build reef health and resilience, we support managers at the Roatan Marine Park to ensure that the reef ecosystem and fish stocks are protected. While Honduras does not use a traditional fishing rights tenure system, we are working at the community level to improve resource management and protection.
We are applying the lessons learned from our progress with the Roatan Marine Park to two additional ecologically important areas in the region—Utila and Capiro Banks. This strategic move is part of our larger effort to build momentum for the network of marine protected areas.
Threats and progress
Due to increasing popularity as a travel and cruise ship destination, massive immigration from the mainland, unplanned development, and uncontrolled sewage output, Roatan is experiencing increased pressure on its coral reef resources. CORAL continues to share its experience and advice with local community members, marine recreation providers, marine protected area managers, and other organizations as a means of identifying sustainable conservation opportunities for the region.
Our partners in Honduras
CORAL is engaging stakeholders from the local community, government, and marine tourism industry to build long-term, sustainable conservation partnerships.