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 ensure 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 Turneffe Atoll Marine Reserve are upheld.
In 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 government agencies that often operate contrary to the best interests of the environment. As such, several key areas of Turneffe remain vulnerable and the most definitive way to prevent development is through a land conservation program that can purchase or otherwise bind these properties for conservation purposes. This program will require substantial fundraising.
Commercial fishermen and ecotourism 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 while ecotourism offers international connections and better access to funding. Together, the two groups offer far more effective advocacy for the environment than 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, one of the two principal commercial products. A reliable baseline analysis of spiny lobster is badly needed for the effective management of Turneffe's commercial fishery. All parties, including fishermen and government agencies, acknowledge that Turneffe's commercial fisheries need better management and all are interested in creating positive changes such as better enforcement and limiting access for the fishery. These management interventions cannot be accurately evaluated without good baselines and ongoing monitoring.