Largest meeting of marine conservation partners convenes to safeguard the Mesoamerican Reef

Photo Credit: 
Parrotfish are key herbivores on coral reefs such as this thriving reef called Banco Cordelia, Honduras © Francesca Diaco

November 4, 2014, Tela, Honduras - More than 60 marine conservation leaders from Mexico, Belize, Guatemala and Honduras gathered last week in Tela, Honduras to jointly develop the 2015 Mesoamerican Reef Report Card, which will be released in early 2015. Convened by the Healthy Reefs for Healthy People Initiative (HRI), this collaborative meeting was an opportunity for HRI partners to share regional data, reflect on conservation achievements and identify strategic measurable actions to advance conservation over the next two years.

HRI partners have been collecting and sharing standardized coral reef monitoring data for the past decade and previously produced three Report Cards on ecosystem health and two Eco-Audits of management effectiveness and success. They teamed up again this past summer to systematically measure the health of more than 200 coral reef sites across 1,000 km of the four countries in the Mesoamerican Region (MAR). HRI partners reviewed and used these data as the scientific foundation for drafting the 2015 Mesoamerican Reef Report Card. Data collected through these shared studies are truly valuable - they are relevant, repeatable, comparable, and like the oceans, they are trans-boundary in scope.

To support regional partnerships, HRI launched its new online Mesoamerican Reef Health Database with a demonstration on how to query the database and produce graphs or map-based data visualizations. When the 2014 survey data come online, the database will house over 1,000 entries, including more than 100,000 records of corals, fish, and key invertebrates. HRI also demonstrated its new Online Data Entry Tool, which allows faster, more efficient data entry and analysis of the Atlantic and Gulf Rapid Reef Assessment (AGRRA) coral reef health indicator data.

A highlight of the meeting involved the partners working together to identify and prioritize concrete, measurable actions achievable over the next two years that will help reduce the most significant threats impacting the region. Examples include encouraging the implementation of Region-wide regulations to protect parrotfish, as successfully done by Belize in 2009 and reducing carbon emissions associated with the annual plans of government, NGOs, academia and private sector by 15%. Look for the full list of actions in the upcoming 2015 Report Card, which underscores the dedication of the HRI partners to making a positive conservation difference in the region.

Healthy Reefs for Healthy People Initiative is an international partnership of almost 70 local, national and international NGO's, research institutions, government agencies and donors that aim to improve the health and management of the Mesoamerican Reef. The MAR is a biodiversity and cultural hotspot, where local communities cherish and understand the value of this amazing ecosystem and support its long-term conservation. Support for the Healthy Reefs Initiative and the annual partner meeting comes from the Oak Foundation, Summit Foundation, JRS Biodiversity Foundation, and an anonymous foundation.

For more information visit us at www.healthyreefs.org or contact: