New Conservation Posts on Turneffe Atoll help enforce the marine reserve

On the 1st March 2017, the Turneffe Atoll Sustainability Association (TASA) opened two new buildings on the atoll to increase the effectiveness of their enforcement and education activities.

The Turneffe Atoll Marine Reserve, which is co-managed by TASA along with the Government of Belize, was established by law in 2012 and is both the largest marine reserve in Belize, and the largest atoll in the northern-hemisphere. The area is of crucial importance for local and commercial fishing, as well as lobster and conch diving.

TASA’s main station, which houses five permanent rangers is housed on Calabash Caye, while its secondary outpost which houses four rangers is on Mauger Caye to the north of the atoll.

Fisheries Administrator Beverly Wade, and Jose Alpuche, Chief Executive Officer in the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Fisheries, the Environment, Sustainable Development, and Immigration did the official ribbon cutting  and were joined by many others with a keen interest in seeing the marine reserve succeed.

The new buildings were  funded by the Bertarelli Foundation, as part of our ongoing commitment to help Turneffe Atoll recover from decades of misuse and over-fishing.

Valdemar Andradi, TASA’s Executive Director, explained why the new conservation posts will help their work:

Our role is to monitor Turneffe Atoll to ensure that those using the area comply with fisheries regulations and sustainable management of the area’s resources.

Our new presence on two sites will allow for more daily patrols when rangers will be able to monitor for illegal fishing, unlicensed development, as well as to ensure compliance with development permits.

Mauger Caye rangers will patrol from the north to the central atoll, and Calabash Caye rangers will patrol from central to south.



The Calabash Caye field station is expanded at Turneffe Atoll

The University of Belize Environmental Research Institute held an inauguration ceremony for the Staff and Visitor Quarters on the grounds of the Calabash Caye Field Station, Turneffe Atoll, on November 30, 2015. Supported by the Bertarelli Foundation, this is an important step in the development of this facility for local and visiting scientists which is now able to accommodate over 40 researchers.

Attending the inauguration were University of Belize staff, members of the NGO community, and several diplomats including Ambassador Benjamin Ho of the Republic of China; Ambassador Carlos Moreno of the United States of America; and Ambassador Carlos Quesnel Meléndez of Mexico.

President of the University of Belize, Alan Slusher, in his welcome remarks congratulated the Environmental Research Institute team on their accomplishments, whilst Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Harrison Pilgrim, reaffirmed his commitment in supporting the work of the Institute. He also thanked the Bertarelli Foundation for their continued support in the Turneffe Atoll.  The wife of the Belizean Prime Minister, Mrs Kim Simplis-Barrow assisted Harrison Pilgrim in the field station’s ribbon cutting ceremony.

The Bertarelli Foundation helps to protect the Belize Barrier Reef

The government of Belize recently announced the establishment of a marine reserve around the Turneffe Atoll, a remarkable and diverse coral reef system of 1,365km². The designation of this new protected area has been made possible by funding from the Bertarelli Foundation, which has committed itself to preserve the atoll fauna and flora in the future.

Some 300km long, the Belize Barrier Reef is a true marine treasure. Part of the 900km-long Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System (MBRS), it is home to an incredible number of plants and animals and is considered to be one of the most diverse ecosystems in the world. Hard and soft coral species and more than 500 species of fish have been found in its turquoise waters.

Establishing a Turneffe Atoll marine reserve represents the missing link in a chain of protected areas that currently extend across 3,866km² of Belize’s territorial waters.  In 1996, seven areas of the MBRS received UNESCO World Heritage Site protected status, but the Turneffe Atoll was excluded.

The Bertarelli Foundation has been working with local stakeholders, such as the Turneffe Atoll Trust and the fishing community as well as international partners such as the Oak Foundation.

A spokesperson for the Bertarelli Foundation said:

“Last time we helped create the largest marine reserve in the world in the Chagos Archipelago, in the middle of the British Indian Ocean Territory. With this intervention we are helping to protect one of the world’s most magical reefs much closer to areas in which people live. The Turneffe Atoll and its rare creatures are of huge value to Belize in themselves, but also for the ecosystems services and tourism potential they provide, which are literally world-class”.