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.


a - Legal and policy framework (attach in Annex a copy of original texts, and indicate, if possible, the IUCN status)

National status of your protected area:

There are 13 MPA within the Belizean PA system. Eight of these, including Port Honduras Marine Reserve, are designated as Marine Reserves and administered under the Fisheries Department.

Key legislation;  

1.      The Fisheries Act (1948, revised 1983, and currently being revised (2011-14)), administered under the Fisheries Dept, is the principal governing legislation to regulate the fishing industry, and is directly concerned with maintaining sustainable fish stocks and protecting the marine and freshwater environments. The Fisheries Act also provides for the creation of MPA. Each MPA is legally established by a statutory instrument (SI) under the Act. PHMR was established in SI 9 while the regulations for the MPA are described in SI 18.

2.      The Environmental Protection Act (1992) was developed under the Department of the Environment, under the Ministry of Natural Resources, with the aim of ensuring that development initiatives within Belize are planned for minimum environmental impact – important in the context of Port Honduras Marine Reserve, with privately owned / leased cayes located within the Marine Reserve. Also developed under the Ministry of Natural Resources are the Forest (Protection of Mangrove) Regulations (SI 52 of 1989), which provide for the protection of mangroves, with restrictions on mangrove alteration and / or clearance.

3.      The Wildlife Protection Act (SI 12 of 1982, revised 2000) also falls under the Forest Department, and provides protection for a number of marine species (West Indian manatee and dolphins), with the prohibition of hunting and commercial extraction.

IUCN status (please tick the appropriate column if you know the IUCN category of your PA):


b - Management structure, authority

PHMR is managed under a co-management agreement between the Belize Fisheries Department and the Toledo Institute for Development and Environment (TIDE), a non-profit NGO.

PHMR is zoned for multiple use. A general use zone comprises 97.8% of the MPA while 3.2% lies within five replenishment (no-take) zones. One of these zones is also off limits to all visitation except for research and emergency rescue. A proposal to expand the replenishment zones to 5.1% of the reserve is currently (2014) being considered by the Fisheries Dept. The zoning system is embedded within the Statutory Instruments for the MPA (SI 9 and 18 of 2000 under the Fisheries Act).

c - Functional management body (with the authority and means to implement the framework)

Description of the management authority

The Ecosystems Management Unit of the Belize Fisheries Department is one of four units under the Fisheries Administrato, and includes the Protected Area Management Programme. Under this mandate, the Fisheries Department is able to establish and manage the marine reserves in Belize (including Port Honduras Marine Reserve), through the Protected Area Management (Marine Reserve) Programme of the Ecosystems Management Unit, which is specifically in charge of the management of the Marine Reserves, under the Marine Protected Areas Coordinator.

The Fisheries Department has established a co-management partnership with the Toledo Institute of Development and Environment, which has taken on the lead management role, being responsible for all activities and associated costs for the marine protected area.


Management of Port Honduras Marine Reserve is led by the TIDE marine manager, who reports to the TIDE programme manager. The marine manager manages a team of four rangers, with the support of one head ranger. These personnel are responsible for the day-to-day management of the MPA, and the implementation of the management plan, supported by the other TIDE programme areas, namely research and monitoring, environmental education, and sustainable development.





Means to implement the framework

TIDE fundraises to support the management of PHMR and has garnered much of the resources required to do so, including a field station at Abalone Caye, two patrol vessels, one research vessel and one education vessel, as well as a team of trained fisheries officers, and a research team.

Financial sustainability was flagged as a weakness of PHMR in a 2009 capacity needs assessment conducted by CaMPAM. Financial sustainability is partially addressed at government level through the development of a funding mechanism to assist in management and development activities within protected areas – the Protected Areas Conservation Trust (PACT Act, 1996), through a ‘conservation tax’ of US$3.75 levied on non-residents as they leave the country. TIDE, as the co-management partner, is eligible for funding from the Trust, and has received funding in the past.

d - Objectives (clarify whether prioritized or of equal importance)

Objective Top priority Comment
To preserve the value of the area for fisheries, through the protection and enhancement of habitats utilised by commercially important species. No Resource Protection Program
To reduce fishing pressure in the PHMR by 30% by eliminating illegal fishing and illegal fishing methods. No Resource Protection Program
To maintain diverse and healthy fish populations in the rivers of the MMMC. No Resource Protection Program
By 2018, increase commercial species (conch, lobster, snapper, grouper) and parrotfish to viable population levels No Resource Protection Program
By 2015, increase shark numbers by 15% based on 2006 levels, and the population of large (>110cm) Goliath Grouper by 15%, in PHMR based on 2006 levels. No Resource Protection Program
To monitor viability of conservation targets and water quality No Research and Monitoring Program
To provide information on the ridge to reef connectivity of the Maya Mountain marine Corridor No Research and Monitoring Program
To effectively assess success of no take areas, managed access and PHMR as a whole in maintaining viable populations of key conservation species No Research and Monitoring Program
To identify sites/coral species resilience and develop recommended adaptations for climate change No Research and Monitoring Program
To establish comprehensive datasets and effective data management and analysis for providing information for informing adaptive management strategies and assessing the management effectiveness of the marine protected area No Research and Monitoring Program
To improve engagement of stakeholders of PHMR through involvement in research and monitoring activities within the Marine Reserve, to build capacity improve support for conservation activities. No Research and Monitoring Program
To improve capacity and ability of staff, rangers and community researchers to conduct research and monitoring within PHMR No Research and Monitoring Program
To build the capacity of the Advisory Council and Board of Directors in NGO governance through training and exchange visits to international NGO’s No Education and Outreach Program
To support supplemental livelihood identified by PHMR buffer communities No Sustainable development program
To implement an educational Program to promote conservation through sustainable resource use; No Education and Outreach Program
To implement a comprehensive interpretative Program No Education and Outreach Program

e - Brief description of management plan (attach in Annex a copy of the plan)

The management plan has been developed following national guidelines (National Protected Areas Policy and System Planning Plan, 2005), and the outputs from the Maya Mountain Marine Corridor Conservation Action Strategy (TIDE, 2009). There has been extensive stakeholder input, through meetings with staff at TIDE, the Port Honduras Marine Reserve Advisory Committee, representative stakeholders, members of the buffering communities and the Fisheries Department. It has also taken into account planning for the adjacent Southern Belize Reef Complex system, stretching north from the Sapodilla Cayes Marine Reserve to South Water Caye Marine Reserve.

The Plan is structured in three parts;

·         The Current Status provides information on the national and regional context of the Marine Reserve, with information on the physical and biological aspects of the area, documents the current uses and highlights management problems.

·         The Conservation Planning section summarises the conservation target and threats and details specific management strategies for the maintenance of biodiversity and ecosystem functions.

·         The Management Planning section defines the goals and objectives of management for the Marine Reserve, the management programmes and strategies in place for the coming five years, and integrates a monitoring and evaluation format.

The Management Plan is considered a living document, to be reviewed, update and re-submitted annually by TIDE and the Fisheries Department, allowing information to be added and strategies amended as appropriate, reflecting changes in the socio-economic and biodiversity context of the marine protected area.

A climate change adaptation strategy for PHMR was completed in 2012 and added as an annex to the management plan.


Management plan - date of publication

: 1/1/12

Management plan duration

: 5

Date of Review planned

: 1/1/17