Meso-American Barrier-Reef System (MBRS) Project

Honorable Daniel Silva, Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Cooperatives, returned to Belize on April 5 from Tulum, Mexico after attending a Meeting for the endorsement of the Meso-American Barrier-Reef System (MBRS) Project Document.

The minister's endorsement followed the discussion and review of the project document by the four countries' government representatives and national consultants and officials from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the Central American Commission on Environment and Development (CCAD).

The MBRS Project is a five-year project encompassing the reef system and its associated resources on the Caribbean and Atlantic Coasts of Belize, Mexico, Guatemala, and Honduras. Belize's coastline is home to approximately 80% of those systems' The goal of the project is to improve the protection of the unique and vulnerable marine ecosystems that make up the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef and to assist the four countries to strengthen and coordinate national policies, laws and institutional efforts aimed at conservation and the sustainable use of this global public treasure. It is a lifetime project to safeguard the integrity and continued productivity of the Mesoamerican barrier reef.

The four participating countries will monitor the impact of tourism and. fishing on these resources and create educational programs that will prove beneficial to the system's long-term survival. A total of $11.6 million U.S. dollars have been allocated for implementation of the project. Funding for the preparation phase of the project is being provided by the Global Environment Facility (GEF), the Netherlands/World Bank Environmental Partnership Fund, the Canadian Trust, and the Food and Agriculture Organization. In the implementation stage of the project, funding is expected from GEF with counterpart funding from the governments of the four participating countries. These counterpart contributions are $1.69 million from Belize, $0.59 million from Guatemala, $0.59 million from Honduras and $0.74 million from Mexico.

The project will be implemented by the World Band and Executed by CCAD through a Regional Coordination Unit to be hosted by Belize in conformity with the organizational structure. Signing on behalf of the other three countries were Honduras' Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Xiomara Gomez de Caballero, Guatemala's Secretary of the Environment and Natural Resources Aroldo Quej, and President of Mexico's Institute of National Ecology Enrique Provencio Accompanying Minister Silva to Tulum were Chief Executive office of Coastal Zone Management and MBRS National coordinator Mr. Vincent Gillet and Noel Jacobs, the regional coordinator for the MBRS program office stationed in Belize.

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