(Mesoamerican Reef) A network of coastal mayors across the Honduran Caribbean today launched a regional effort to establish marine reserve networks, providing full protection from fishing so fish populations and their habitats can recover. The Mayors’ declaration, the first of its kind in this region, was announced after a recent meeting in La Ceiba, Honduras, during which the mayors agreed on a joint effort to solve the overfishing and coastal pollution problems affecting the country’s coastal zone.
“Artisanal fishing sustains more than five thousand families of the north coast of Honduras; activity that is threatened as a result of historical problems exacerbated by the lack of local organization, little or no access to economic and social incentives, and lack of effective enforcement of the law,” said the Mayors in a joint declaration. “Artisanal fishing conducted in a responsible manner is an effective and efficient means of conserving fishery and marine resources. It can lead to the fair, inclusive and sustainable development of our communities, which is our greatest goal.”
This announcement by Honduras mayors reflects a growing commitment by coastal leaders throughout the world recognizing the need and opportunity to restore coastal fisheries and protect the habitat on which coastal cultures and economics depend. “The commitment is a terrific example of a ‘multi-local’ solution, a network of communities facing a common challenge, and working together to support a proven, community-led solution,” said Brett Jenks, President and CEO of Rare. “It’s a model Rare is working to replicate in many other coastal fishing communities around the world.”
The Mayors’ declaration was supported by Centro de Estudios Marinos (Center for Marine Studies), a Honduran non-governmental organization dedicated to supporting communities’ efforts to improve the management of coastal ecosystems. CEM and Rare have been working in partnership to link the work in Honduras and the wider Mesoamerican reef to a global program addressing coastal overfishing through community-based management.
“By working with their constituencies and helping them establish effective reserves, these Mayors are investing in their communities’ future,” said Dr Steve Box, Senior Vice President of Fish Forever, Rare’s coastal fishery program. “We know that reserves are an essential piece of sustainable fishery management and communities have a key role in both establishing and then maintaining these reserves. Linking rights with stewardship is the critical path to enable reserves to replenish and sustain local fisheries.”
Recently, Rare analyzed data from over 250 coastal communities working with its Fish Forever program in Asia and Latin America, each using similar networks of marine reserves implemented through community-based management. At 97 percent of these sites, local fish populations either stabilized or increased, which bodes well for this Honduran effort.
The Mayors who made the declaration include all the muncipalities across the Honduran Caribbean from Omoa to Trujillo and the Bay Islands including Jerry Sabio (La Ceiba); Edgardo Ramírez Romero (Esparta); Gerardo Quijada (La Masica); Enrique Alejandro Matute Meza (San Francisco); Dario Alejandro Munguia Quezada (Tela); Héctor Raúl Mendoza (Trujillo); Wilmer Renán Guzmán Murillo (Iriona); Jorge Orlendo Martínez Torres (Limón); Isidro Noel Ruiz Martinez (Santa Fe); Valerie Nicole Brady Ramos (Vice Mayor of Roatán); Spurgeon Steven Miller Molina (Guanaja); Gilbert Carrison Dilbert Green (Santos Guardiola); Troy Donahue Bodden González (Utila).