CORAL conducts sustainable marine workshop

The Island Newspaper, Ambergris Caye, Belize            Vol. 19, No. 8            February 26, 2009

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Tour guides play a vital role in the upkeep of our environment, hence they were instrumental to the worshop.

Last week, the Coral Reef Alliance (CORAL), in conjunction with the San Pedro Junior College and the San Pedro Tour Guide Association, conducted the second sustainable marine recreation in San Pedro, Belize.

   Working with the theme, Sustainable Marine Recreation: Protect Your Business by Protecting Your Reef, the workshop brought together key stakeholders in the region to identify threats and devise locally led solutions for sustainable business, coral reef conservation, and effective protected area management.

   The workshop was held over a two-evening period at the San Pedro Junior College. Participants included dive shop owners and managers, tour guides, and local conservationists. During the first day of the workshop, participants were given presentations and informational material on coral reef ecology, the Mesoamerican Reef Report Card 2008 and engaged in interactive exercises to identify and rank local threats to coral reefs in northern Belize.

   During a “brainstorm” session participants identified the following threats to San Pedro reefs during this initial workshop: General – dredging, mangrove depletion, over fishing, coastal development, sewage, improper shoreline management, high nutrient run-off, lack of education to name a few. Following the brainstorm identification of threats to the reefs in northern Belize, participants separated into five groups and conducted an exercise to rank key marine recreation related threats based on area, intensity, and urgency of the threat and its effect on the reef.

   Day two of the workshop included presentations highlighting solutions for sustainable business practices and marketing for conservation. Guest presentations also included the Coral Reef Watch program for bleaching that involves tour guides and guests. Following these presentations, workshop participants again separated into groups and participated in an interactive exercise to begin to devise locally-led solutions for making San Pedro a sustainable destination. The exercise involved several groups rotating to various stations where a key threat was listed, and then identifying what their group believed were the solutions that would best address that threat.

   At the end of the two days, those in attendance received certificates of merit for their participation.
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