Our Work - Turneffe Flats
Turneffe Atoll Trust has four areas of focus, they are described on this page.
We started with a dedication to conservation, which has never wavered. We recognized that this unspoiled and wonderful place - which we called home - needed a protector and that without an organized effort, its resources would likely decline. Following a 1% For The Planet commitment by Turneffe Flats, and the vision of its owner, Craig Hayes, we rolled up our sleeves and got to work.
Catch & Release
We initially focused on one of our passions –protecting the key sport fishing species in Belize. This work culminated with landmark legislation mandating comprehensive protection of bonefish, permit and tarpon throughout Belize as catch-and-release only species. To date, this is the most comprehensive protection enacted for these species and this legislation is now being used as a model by other countries.
In 2010 we turned our focus to the commercial fishery at Turneffe. As a critical step in securing the support of commercial fishermen for the Marine Reserve, we undertook a comprehensive analysis of the Turneffe's commercial fishery. This included an extensive survey of fishermen which revealed their desire for better management of their fishery including improved enforcement to stop illegal fishing.
To initiate the process of establishing a marine reserve at Turneffe, Turneffe Atoll Trust organized all parties in Belize interested in protecting Turneffe. Through 10,000 man hours of consultation among stakeholders, a 300 page Turneffe Atoll Marine Management Plan was developed. This process, which was an essential precursor to the marine reserve, was funded by TAT.
On November 12, 2012, Turneffe Atoll Trust's efforts culminated in the establishment of the Turneffe Atoll Marine Reserve — Belize's largest marine reserve encompassing more than 325,000 acres with a wide variety of marine habitats. Subsequently, Turneffe Atoll Trust played the pivotal role in establishing a stakeholder-based organization to co-manage the Reserve.
In 2014 and 2015, we funded a comprehensive baseline analysis of Turneffe's queen conch population, one of the two major commercial species of the atoll. This analysis is the most comprehensive conch analysis ever conducted in the Caribbean and it is key to the sustainable management of this fishery.