The Path Forward - Turneffe Flats
In order to protect Turneffe Atoll, these steps will be taken.
THE PATH FORWARD
Our Conservation Oversight / Watchdog Program closely monitors development at Turneffe
to ensure that the environmental laws of Belize are upheld. Belize is recognized as a world
conservation leader and solid environmental laws are in place. However, these laws are not
always followed by permitting agencies leading to undesirable environmental outcomes.
Our Conservation Oversight Program will obtain early information about development
applications at Turneffe and see that all stakeholders are informed. We will provide essential
environmental and engineering information to permitting agencies; and also institute legal
intervention when required to ensure that environmental laws and the principles of the Marine
Reserve are upheld.
Over the past years, much of the environmentally sensitive property at Turneffe has been
sold to private investors. Although the Marine Reserve provides considerable protection from
destructive development, regulatory controls remain with governmental agencies who often
operate contrary to the best interests of the environment. As such, several key areas of Turneffe
remain vulnerable to destructive development and the most definitive way to prevent such
development is through a Land Conservation Program which will purchase, or otherwise bind,
these properties indefinitely for conservation purposes. This program will require substantial
Commercial fishermen and eco-tour operators (such as Turneffe Flats) have common interests
in seeing that Turneffe's environment remains healthy. The two groups have formed the
Fishermen and Ecotourism Alliance (FETA) to advocate for the protection of key Turneffe
habitats. These two stakeholder groups offer a significant symbiosis with commercial
fishermen providing local expertise and influence and ecotourism offering international
connections and better access to funding. Together the two groups offer far more effective
advocacy for the environment than can be offered by either group alone.
Turneffe Atoll Trust has completed a number of important research projects including a
comprehensive baseline analysis of Turneffe's queen conch population. Queen conch are
one of the two principle commercial products from Turneffe with the other being Caribbean
spiny lobster. A reliable baseline analysis of spiny lobster is badly needed to effect good
management of Turneffe's commercial fishery.
All parties, including fishermen and governmental agencies, acknowledge that Turneffe's
commercial fisheries need better management. All are interested in effecting positive changes including better enforcement and limited access for the fishery. These management interventions cannot be accurately evaluated without good baselines and ongoing monitoring.