Glover’s Reef Marine Reserve

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(Guidelines and Criteria Section B / Cultural and Socio-Economic Criteria) Nominated Areas must conform, where applicable, to at least one of the three Cultural and Socio-Economic Criteria. If applicable, describe how the nominated site satisfies one or more of the following three Criteria (Attach in Annex any specific and relevant documents in support of these criteria).

Cultural and traditional use:

The Atoll is a traditional fishing area for lobster, conch and finfish, with the greatest activity occurring during the opening of the lobster and conch seasons. Thirty-five boats were recorded as active within the Atoll in 2005, primarily from Sarteneja, Hopkins, Dangriga, Belize City and occasionally Placencia, with an estimated total of 108 fishermen (73 sailboat fishermen, and 35 using skiffs) (Gibson and Hoare, 2006). In 2009, 50 boats were recorded to be actively using the Atoll from the communities of Sarteneja, Hopkins and Dangriga with an estimate total of 130 fishermen. Peak times for fishing were recorded as the opening of the Lobster and Conch season.

Socio-economic benefits:

There are 6 resorts on the Glover’s Atoll but only 5 are operational as Mata Ray Resort is up for sale. One Caye, Middle Caye does not have a resort but it has a research station and the Belize Fisheries Department is located there as well. The research station has guest periodically throughout the year and varies from year to year. The Fisheries Department has staff working on rotations but always has someone on site. The other resorts have minimum of a cook, a boat captain and a watchman on staff at any given time unless it’s a resort that the owners live at. Visitation to the resorts is seasonal.

Tourism is becoming an increasingly important economic activity on Glover’s Reef Atoll, though with accessibility far harder than Lighthouse and Turneffe, much of the tourism is based on live aboards, or based from the five resorts currently operating from the cayes within the Atoll. Visitors also arrive from other resorts on the mainland and other cayes on a daily basis, such as Hamanasi Adventure and Dive Resort, from the mainland near Hopkins, and from hotels on Tobacco Caye.

Sailboats from The Moorings charter yacht business based in Placencia visit the atoll for snorkeling and diving, and other private boats and yachts also visit the reserve, but on a relatively small scale. Activities concentrate on scuba-diving, kayaking, wind surfing, sport fishing and fly fishing, with the impressive reef structures of the reef edge and the sheltered waters of the inner lagoon providing perfect conditions for these activities. At peak occupancy, there are estimated to be approximately 120 guests on the Atoll in total, though the average occupancy is 50% of that.

Residential staff number approximately 38 (these figures do not include Middle Caye, the location of the WCS research station and the Fisheries Department base). With the high costs of transport, the majority of the resorts operate on a weekly itinerary, offering all-in packages with a single arrival /departure day. Two of the companies – Slickrock and Island Expeditions – focus on kayak activities, based from camp facilities, whilst Isla Marisol and Off the Wall have a much greater investment in infrastructure. Most of the resorts close for one to two months of the year, or in some cases longer. Most are open, however, from October to April/May.