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Cayman Crown – Expansion of the Sapodilla Cayes Marine Reserve #549353
04/08/21 04:20 AM
04/08/21 04:20 AM
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 73,411
oregon, spr
Marty Offline OP

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Marty  Offline OP
Cayman Crown – a coral reef site in Belize and Guatemala

On July 31, 2020, a statutory instrument was signed by the then Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries, Forestry, the Environment and Sustainable Development for the expansion of the Sapodilla Cayes Marine Reserve, now approximately 321,623.5 acres. This expansion includes but is not limited to the protection of a portion of an important coral reef ecosystem known as the Corona Reef or Cayman Crown, which straddles the maritime boundary between southern Belize and Guatemala.

The Cayman Crown is described as the most underrepresented habitat in the marine protected areas system of Belize and Guatemala and is believed to be a biologically important hotspot, a fish spawning aggregation site (FSA) for numerous fin fish species and habitat for deep-slope snapper and bottom-dwelling species. In 2020, the Cayman Crown was declared protected in both Belize and Guatemala.

After obtaining a valid research permit from the Belize Fisheries Department, the Toledo Institute for Development and Environment (TIDE) commenced research for FSA’s at the Cayman Crown in February of 2020 and plans to carry out research during 6 to 8 months of the year. Scientific information gathered will inform the effective management of the Cayman Crown zone within the Sapodilla Cayes Marine Reserve.

During FSA monitoring expeditions conducted in February and March of 2021, TIDE’s research team was accompanied by a research team from FUNDAECO, Guatemala who is responsible for the management of the Guatemalan portion of the Cayman Crown site. The FUNDAECO team obtained a valid research permit from the Belize Fisheries Department to participate in the research trips within Belize’s territorial waters and TIDE intends to access research permits from Guatemala when conducting research in the Guatemalan marine protected area. TIDE, FUNDAECO and Healthy Reefs for Healthy People Initiative have pledged through a cooperation agreement to work jointly on research, protection, and management of the newly formed transboundary marine protected area.

A management plan for the Sapodilla Cayes Marine Reserve will be developed and we look forward to participation of stakeholders in the consultation meetings.

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Re: Cayman Crown – Expansion of the Sapodilla Cayes Marine Reserve [Re: Marty] #549382
04/09/21 04:45 AM
04/09/21 04:45 AM
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 73,411
oregon, spr
Marty Offline OP

.
Marty  Offline OP

Update on Cayman Crown

Last night we told you about the latest developments with the Corona Reef. It's also called the Cayman Crown, and it's an important coral reef system that is now a part of the expanded Sapodilla Cayes Marine Reserve.

Last night, the Ministry of the Blue Economy, TIDE, and the Belize Fisheries Department sent out a joint press release to say that this important fish spawning aggregation site at the country's southernmost border was going to lead to a bilateral conservation effort between environmentalists from Belize and Guatemala. But, shortly after our story aired last night, there were some concerns raised.

In the joint press release from yesterday, the organizations made it clear that part of the Corona Reef was in Belizean waters, and that the other part was in Guatemalan waters. The press release says that the Corona Reef, quote, "…straddles the maritime boundary between southern Belize and Guatemala ". End quote.

The release also asserted that this important site was"declared protected" protected in both countries. The statement also said that TIDE was responsible for Belize's portion of the Corona Reef, while their Guatemalan counterparts, FUNDAECO", was responsible for the quote, "Guatemalan portion", end quote.

Well, informed persons are suggesting that previous attempts to map the coral systems in Belize have not revealed any reefs in Guatemalan waters. Those studies include Belize's EEZ data, which was mapped by Jan Meerman, and the Allen Coral Atlas. It is being suggested that both of those studies aren't indicating any transboundary reef systems. This member of the public reasons, therefore, that there is no need for TIDE to get permits from the Guatemalan authorities to study the Corona Reef, because it is, quote,"completely within Belize's waters", end quote.

Nevertheless, there is currently a plan for TIDE, Guatemala's FUNDAECO, and the Healthy Reefs for Healthy People Initiative to work jointly on research, protection, and management of the "newly formed transboundary marine protected area".

Channel 7


Re: Cayman Crown – Expansion of the Sapodilla Cayes Marine Reserve [Re: Marty] #549486
04/14/21 04:25 AM
04/14/21 04:25 AM
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 73,411
oregon, spr
Marty Offline OP

.
Marty  Offline OP

Corona Reef Controversy

Last we told you about what should be big news about the Corona Reef, or the Cayman Crown, as it is officially known.

Last year, this important reef system was officially recognized as an expansion of the Sapodilla Cayes Marine Reserve. Early information on this reef system is that it is believed to be a biologically important hotspot, a fish spawning aggregation site. It is being described as "pristine" and as the "most underrepresented habitat in the marine protected areas system of Belize and Guatemala".

It also should have been hugely positive news that Belize's Toledo Institute for Development and Environment (TIDE), and their Guatemalan counterparts, FUNDAECO, would collaborate with the Healthy Reefs for Healthy People Initiative in a bilateral effort to protect the Corona Reef.

Instead, all the focus is being placed on its actual geographical location, and whether or not it is in Belizean territory. In a joint press release sent by the Ministry of the Blue Economy, the Belize Fisheries Department, and TIDE, they certainly give the impression that not all the of Corona Reef's system is in Belizean territory.

They said, that it, quote, "straddles the maritime boundary between southern Belize and Guatemala." End quote.

The press release also says that the system was declared protected in both Belize and Guatemala and that Guatemala's FUNDAECO is, quote, "...responsible for the management of the Guatemalan portion of the Cayman Crown site" End quote.

What also caught the attention of some of the Belizean conservationists is the suggestion that TIDE, quote, "...intends to access research permits from Guatemala when conducting research in the Guatemalan marine protected area." End quote.

The issue is that current coral reef maps don't indicate any reef systems located in Guatemalan territorial waters, and so, Geovanni Brackett, the Belizean grassroots activist, and nationalist, doesn't want to hear any talk of getting permission from the Guatemalan authorities.

In a press release sent this morning, Brackett says, quote, "As a committed environmentalist I am dismayed by the acquiescence of vaunted environmental organization, the Toledo Institute for Development and Environment (TIDE), in choosing to obtain research permits from Guatemala..." End quote.

Via teleconference, he and border activist Wil Maheia granted us an interview on the topic. Here's what they had to say:

Geovannie Brackett, Activist
"We should countenance any information that Guatemala owns any section of our reef. We shouldn't be appeasing Guatemala by going into getting any agreement so that we don't have any trouble with Guatemalan authorities. What kind of legal implication will that have at the ICJ at the Hague and so it is for that reason that I lobbied, I try to get the peace movement and they have to convene meetings, but Wil Maheia has always been a true patriot who have always been forthcoming and speedily and so I checked with Wil first and a few other friends and they felt the very same way that I did."

Wil Maheia, Border Activist
"I believe that the government of Belize have a responsibility to show the Belizean people where this Corona reef is at. I know that last year it was declared an extension to the Sapodilla Caye Marine Reserve, but I think the government have a responsibility to educate the public about where the Corona Reef is exactly."

"I know that the Corona Reef is close by the border area. We have a border with Guatemala up the Sarstoon River. I don't know if the Corona Reef is like that. My knowledge of the Corona Reef that it is inside Belize. There is a chance that the reef extend into Guatemala, but I know the documents that I have seen shows that the reef is in Belize, so I know that in the past the Guatemalans have demanded that Belizeans try and get permission from them to do their research on the reef and I don't think that we need to ask Guatemala for permission to dive within our reef, if its inside their reef system, then sure, but within our reef, no and I also want to take this opportunity to really applaud the work of the Belize Coast Guard who have been patrolling in that area for a number of months now or since the declaration and have basically hauled up a number of gillnets from that area."

Reporter
"Do you have any issues with any bilateral efforts to protect it?"

Geovannie Brackett, Activist
"I don't have a problem on a policy that surrounding countries signed on to agreement to protect the sea to do their part to lessen pollution, to do their part into protecting the marine environment. That is no problem. When you live on your property you don't need permission from your neighbor to check your yard if it is clean. What you need is your neighbor to work in harmony and partnership with you to manage their portion that what they do in their territory doesn't affect what happens in our territory."

Wil Maheia, Border Activist
"I think that working together joint efforts Belize, Guatemala, Honduras will just make the entire gulf of Honduras a better place. I think the same should be done in the Colombia Forest Reserve and the Chiquibul Forest Reserve. Working with the Guatemalan counterparts to improve the health of the environment, but not to exploit it."

When we spoke via telephone with Andre Perez, the Minister of the Blue Economy, he told us he would prefer to focus on the fact that an important marine resource is about to be better protected, and that there are talks of bilateral cooperation between conservationists from the two countries. He tells us that all the officials who have visited the Corona Reef have only positive things to say about this newly discovered marine habitat.

We also contacted the executive director of TIDE for a comment, and she told us that a press release will be sent tomorrow with clarifications.

Channel 7


Environmental Activists Argue that Corona Reef is in Belizean Waters

In January, a team of researchers from the Toledo Institute for Development and Environment, TIDE, was stopped by members of the Guatemalan Armed Forces from conducted scientific studies within the area of the Sapodilla Cayes Marine Reserve known as Corona Reef.  The incident sparked public outrage because the location in question spans the maritime boundaries of Belize and Guatemala.  On April seventh, the Ministry of the Blue Economy issued a joint statement along with the Belize Fisheries Department and TIDE stating that while the area is under-represented as a marine protected area, it is an important natural environment for fish spawning and aggregation.  Activists Giovanni Brackett and Wil Maheia are up in arms, arguing that Corona Reef and the Sapodilla Cayes Marine Reserve are in both in Belize’s territorial waters and there is no need to obtain Guatemalan cooperation to study it. 

Giovannie Brackett, Activist

“First of all, if you recall, TIDE researchers were aggressed by the Guatemalan Armed Forces back in January.  Now myself, with many Belizeans, including Wil, we were very vociferous over social media, I even called the talk shows to express my discontent with what happened.  But what has transpired with this latest press release from the [Ministry of] Blue Economy and the joint press release with fisheries, along with TIDE in collaboration with this Guatemalan NGO to share research over Belize’s portion of the Corona Reef system and this Guatemalan NGO will do, supposedly, their section.  Now that is ludicrous because when you look at the EEZ data, as I’ve quoted in the press release, is that they were unable to point out or even show any trans-boundary or any of the reef systems in Guatemala.  There are two senior experts that I quoted in the press release who have gone on record as well to say that no section of the reef is in or in the Sapodilla or the Corona Reef is in Guatemala.  If that is the case, then whoever wants to believe that can pick up a brochure and go snorkel down in Guatemala.”

Wil Maheia, Activist

“As far as the Corona Reef is concerned, I have no objection of Belize collaborating with Guatemala or Honduras in doing research, but they must understand that this reef is inside Belize’s territory. I believe that precedence was set when the area was declared a marine reserve and there was no objection from Guatemala at that time when this area was declared a marine reserve.  I understand that Guatemala has also declared a part of their waters as a marine reserve.  I just believe that we have to educate our people, the Belizean people as to the extent of the Sapodilla Cayes Marine Reserve and what it entails.  It entails the Corona Reef.  I think that researchers have proven that the Corona Reef is inside Belize’s territory.”

Channel 5



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