New Management Plan Will Protect Coral Reefs in Tela Bay, Honduras

Tela Bay, Honduras has some of the healthiest corals along the Mesoamerican Reef, boasting an abundance of critically endangered species, averaging a high rate of coral cover, and providing an important source of coral larvae for the region. It’s why we work with local communities, scientists, and partners to protect Tela Bay and its natural resources.

Most recently, we collaborated with local partners to finalize a management plan for Tela Bay’s Wildlife Refuge, a marine protected area that often suffers from the impacts of overfishing. The plan was recently approved by the government and will now act as a new tool to protect Tela’s coral reefs. 

How Was Tela Bay’s Management Plan Established? 

Back in 2017, Tela Bay was declared a marine protected area (MPA). But unfortunately, officials didn’t have the guidance or resources to truly preserve the bay effectively. That’s why we helped the Tela Bay Technical Committee, a local group made up of NGOs, governmental organizations, scientists, and community members, develop a management plan for the refuge.

“The management plan is a result of the determination and dedication of our local community in Tela, who care deeply about protecting their resources,” says Julio San Martin Chicas, CORAL’s principal program coordinator for the North Coast of Honduras.

A fisheries plan, which the committee created to indicate sustainable fishing regulations in the region, was used as a base for developing Tela Bay’s full management plan. In addition to providing guidelines for healthy fisheries, the management plan now offers information on how to manage tourism, respect local customs and values, encourage environmental education, and more. 

“Together, our goal is to offer guidance to officials so they are able to enforce regulations, support the livelihoods of communities, and ultimately protect Tela Bay,” says San Martin Chicas. “Establishing a plan will bring us one step closer to saving the region’s coral reefs.”

What’s Next? 

What happens next is crucial. Across the globe, so many MPAs, like the Tela Bay Wildlife Refuge, are only protected on paper—but they aren’t properly managed in real life due to lack of enforcement, education, funding, or resources. Our work at CORAL is to ensure communities have a feasible plan in place and can effectively manage their MPAs and minimize the human impact.  

In 2023, we will work to secure funding in order to implement the actions from Tela Bay’s management plan, which in turn will protect the area’s fisheries and coral reefs. From there, our scientists, partners, and community leaders will observe the bay, measure the effectiveness of new actions, and monitor the health of our beloved coral reef ecosystems.

Join us in supporting our on-the-ground staff and local partners in Tela, Honduras. With your help, we can preserve this ecologically important area and continue to support its coastal communities. 

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