Cozumel’s Coral Reefs

The coral reefs off the coast of Cozumel are part of the Mesoamerican Reef—the second-largest barrier reef system in the world. Corals and wildlife are connected across the Mesoamerican Reef, so what happens in Cozumel can affect coral reefs and communities in other nearby countries. 

But like in many areas along the Central American Caribbean coast, coral reefs in Cozumel are in trouble. Unsustainable tourism and overfishing damage critical habitat and remove important wildlife that help keep coral reefs healthy. 

In 2019, Cozumel received 4.2 million visitors from cruise ships alone. While visitors come for the beautiful blue waters and white sand beaches, the influx of tourists and the businesses to support those tourists place a heavy burden on Cozumel’s coral reefs.

Our Work

We partner with local businesses in Cozumel, and along the Quintana Roo coastline, to advocate for sustainable tourism practices. With Amigos de Sian Ka’an and Comisión Nacional de Áreas Naturales Protegidas (the National Commission of Protected Natural Areas, or CONANP), we educate tourism providers and dive operators on the importance of protecting coral reefs and sustainable business practices.  

We are also part of the MAR Network, a group of stakeholders from across the Mesoamerican region that work together to address environmental challenges and concerns. Through the network, we developed a set of criteria and a methodology for assessing environmental needs across popular tourism destinations in the region, including Cozumel, Belize City, and the Bay Islands in Honduras. We use those assessments to find commonalities across the region and build regional collaborations to address common environmental concerns and issues.

Photo Credit: Cozumel Images Photography

Get Involved

If you’re a resident of Cozumel and want to learn more about how you can protect coral reefs, contact Javier Pizaña. You can also reach out to our partners at Amigos de Sian Ka’an and Comisión Nacional de Áreas Naturales Protegidas.

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