[Linked Image]

The management of our blue resources and marine tourism were improved with a collaboration between the Ministry of Tourism and Diaspora Relations and the Ministry of Blue Economy and Civil Aviation, with specific benefit for the Belize Fisheries Department's management of marine resources highly utilized for marine tourism and recreation.

Hon. Andre Perez thanked the sister Ministry of Tourism for the collaboration and remarked, "Marine Reserves are an important Fisheries Management tool as well as a conservation tool geared to support viable populations of threatened species, sustain coastal fishing communities as well as attracting significant blue economy investment and tourism to Belize. Marine Reserves are the key source securing for our economy and Belizeans life and livelihood, whether it being via fisheries development or tourism."

The focus of the collaboration - the Caye Caulker Marine Reserve (CCMR) forms an integral part of the livelihoods of its villagers by safeguarding there traditional fishing practices and boosting it through tourism related activities associated with the reserve. Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are integral to sustainable use and management of our blue resources. In its 5-Year Blue Economy Strategic Management Plan, The Ministry of Blue Economy & Civil Aviation identifies ocean, marine and coastal tourism as one of the key pillars for collaborative economic development work. Blue economy and tourism are key economic pillars for Belize, providing jobs and foreign exchange earnings.

The sectors are inter-related as tourism in Belize is highly nature based. Our marine and coastal resources are the central focus of Belize's tourism marketing efforts. Blue Economy retains a high responsibility for the management and protection of critical ecosystem services to both the fishing and tourism sectors. Since the designation of a Ministry with focus for our blue resources and economy, the continued evidence based management of our marine protected areas represent a real opportunity for the continued generation of sustainable revenue streams in both sectors.

The InterAmerican Development Bank funded project worked with the Belize Fisheries Department via its Caye Caulker Marine Reserve management with investments focused on enhancing tourism infrastructure, boosting enforcement, and building on the monitoring and evaluation programs. The goal was to enhance the marine resources and tourism management and infrastructure, while decreasing the carbon footprint and provide for adequate visitor management.

With that in mind, additional mooring buoys will be installed, additional procurement of equipment included a boat and engine; a Quadcopter Drone for effective patrols, GPS rangefinder to improve security and monitoring, along with waterproof binoculars, spotlights and flashlights along with uniforms and gears for the field management staff. This collaboration is a continuation of a previous initiative with support from the STP#2 Project for the development of a management plan, monitoring and evaluation tool for the Caye Caulker Marine Reserve.

[Linked Image]
Click photos for more pictures!