Port Honduras Marine Reserve

Note: The data were entered in the language of the country of origin (English, French or Spanish) and there is no translation available yet.


d - Human population and current activities

Inhabitants inside the area or in the zone of potential direct impact on the protected area:

Inside the area In the zone of potential direct impact
Permanent Seasonal Permanent Seasonal
Inhabitants not given not given 5250 not given

Comments about the previous table:

Population numbers are estimates. The only two communities that directly border the reserve are Punta Negra with less than 20 inhabitants and Monkey River with roughly 200 inhabitants. The larger town of Punta Gorda is 4km away.

Description of population, current human uses and development:

Key stakeholders of the Port Honduras Marine Reserve include local fishers, tour guides, tour operators, hotel and restaurant owners, local residents, recreational users of the protected area, tourists, local and national politicians and large-scale investors. Three communities have been identified as major stakeholders in the protected area, through fishing or tourism.

Punta Gorda, the capital of the Toledo District, lies on the coast to the south of PHMR. It has over 5,000 residents of various ethnic groups, including Creole, Garifuna, Maya and Mestizo. Fishing, tourism and public sector employment are the primary economic activities.

Punta Negra lies on the coast of PHMR and is only accessible by sea. In 1990, there were around 200 people in 40 families. Currently, only 18 people in five families remain. Fishing remains the primary source of income, supplemented to a limited extent by coconut oil production and tour guiding. Punta Negra has great potential for eco-tourism, being in a beautiful beach location close to the cayes, but remoteness and lack of infrastructure are barriers to realizing this potential.

Monkey River Village lies at the north end of PHMR at the Monkey River estuary. It is accessible by land and sea. The population is around 180 people, mostly of Creole ethnicity. The economic activities are commercial fishing and tourism. There are two hotels, three restaurants and over thirty tour guides. The Monkey River Tour Guide Association fosters opportunities for its members but is in need of institutional support.

The predominant fishing methods are using hand lines for finfish, and free-diving for spiny lobster, queen conch, and sea cucumber. In 2011, a managed access fisheries program was implemented in PHMR to stop transboundary fishing and protect the livelihoods of local traditional fishers. Presently, around 120 fishers possess a special Managed Access license to conduct commercial fishing in PHMR. Approximately 200 subsistence fishers (who do not require a special license) also utilize the MPA.

Use of PHMR for tourism is relatively low compared with other Belizean MPA, with approximately 1,200 day visitors per year and almost no overnight stays. It is estimated that 28% of the population of the three buffer communities is employed directly or indirectly in the tourism industry.

 The main form of tourism in PHMR is fly fishing. PHMR and adjacent Payne's Creek National Park are regarded as world class fly fishing sites where the ‘grand slam’ can be achieved. Approximately 10 local guides specialize in fly-fishing guiding. Other tourist activities include snorkeling, SCUBA, kayaking and sailing. The primary areas for snorkeling and SCUBA diving are the fringing reefs around the Snake Cayes (except for Middle Snake Caye, which is off limits to tourism).

Two small cruise ships carrying between 20 to 85 passengers visit the cayes within PHMR on a regular basis with landings off West Snake Caye and Punta Gorda Town. One company markets its cruise as an eco-tourism tour and offers natural history educational lectures on board.

In addition to the locals, a significant but so far unquantified number of tour guides and fishers from Guatemala and Honduras use the natural resources of PHMR.

Activities Current human uses Possible development Description / comments, if any
Tourism limited increase
Fishing very important increase
Agriculture significant stable
Industry limited stable
Forestry significant stable
Others not specified not specified

e - Other relevant features

Educational feature:

TIDE has established a number of educational programs for both adults and children that have been very successful in raising awareness of marine conservation and getting community members involved in environmental projects, educating other stakeholders and the monitoring of the MPA. Programs include the Community Stewards program, the TIDE Freshwater Cup, TIDE Summer Camp and the Youth Conservation Competition. TIDE regularly conducts field trips into the reserve for local students from surrounding areas.

Research feature:

TIDE monitors water quality, commercial species (conch, lobster, sea cucumber, finfish), coral reef health, fishers' catches and other MPA parameters on an on-going basis. We also conduct one-off targeted research projects, such as a conch size-at-maturity study, often in partnership with visiting researchers.

Archaeological feature:

The Port Honduras Marine Reserve and surrounding area has been the subject of archaeological investigation for over 30 years by Dr. Heather Mckillop (Louisiana State University). Several archaeological sites have been identified and reported in her numerous publications (McKillop 1984, Jackson & McKillop 1987, McKillop 2005, Seidemann & McKillop 2007). These include a trading post at Wild Cane Caye, settlements at Frenchman's Caye, salt production ponds at Stingray Lagoon of Punta Ycacos, and underwater sites of Green Vine Snake Caye and Pork-and-Doughboy Point.