Featured image from Turneffe Flats Resort
There is nothing better than seeing a group of individuals and stakeholders come together to protect a fishery. Turneffe Atoll is located about 30 miles off the coast of Belize and is home to one of the most bio-diverse reefs in the Caribbean, and now, 17,000 acres of the atoll will be permanently protected thanks to the Turneffe Atoll Trust!
From Turneffe Atoll Trust:
Turneffe Atoll Trust, a registered non-governmental organization focused on environmental conservation, has acquired some 17,000 acres of National Land at Belize’s Turneffe Atoll to be conserved in perpetuity through the establishment of the Turneffe Land Trust, announced Craig Hayes, Board Chairman of Turneffe Atoll Trust.
As Trustee, Turneffe Atoll Trust is charged with safeguarding this property and maintaining its biological and socio-economic advantages for the beneficial owners of the Trust, the Government, and the People of Belize.
While private land at Turneffe will not be directly affected, the Land Trust will effectively prohibit the development of a large portion of the atoll. The land acquisition ensures protection of the atoll’s fragile mangroves and wetlands including essential habitats for fish, birds and other wildlife, including the endangered West Indian Manatee and the threatened American Crocodile.
Established in 2002, Turneffe Atoll Trust (TAT) has advocated for the protection and sustainable management of Turneffe Atoll and similar coastal marine habitats. As TAT Executive Director Alex Anderson, notes, “the establishment of a Land Trust has been a TAT goal for more than a decade.”
In announcing the historic agreement, Hayes commended the efforts of Belizean Ministers Omar Figueroa and Hugo Patt for their “wisdom and foresight” in moving this project forward, noting, “This effort would not have been possible without their leadership.”
Approximately 30 miles off the mainland, Turneffe Atoll is the largest and most biologically diverse atoll in the Caribbean. Its environmental assets provide major economic benefits for Belize, estimated at more than 500 million dollars annually. Economic benefits for Belize include the atoll’s protection of Central Belize, including Belize City, from storm damage, its blue carbon value, its contribution as a major commercial fishery and its substantial tourism value.