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Turneffe and Roatan Join Forces

Roatan Marine Park and Turneffe Atoll Sustainability Association have joined forces to share knowledge and approach to sustainable financing for marine conservation. The two organizations, both members of the MPAConnect network, recognize that marine protection needs to be more funded, which limits the achievement of conservation goals.

Four Turneffe Atoll Sustainability Association (TASA) staff members visited Roatan Marine Park (RMP) to learn about running an MPA enterprise to generate sustainable financing for marine conservation. They learned about marketing and communications, merchandising, business administration, and retail operation - even running a pop-up store. We also shared about installing and maintaining visitor infrastructure in MPAs to support conservation efforts, including yacht and dive moorings and channel markers.

RMP's Infrastructure Coordinator, Nicholas Bach, maintains more than 300 moorings. He says that their focus is applying best practices in mooring installation and ensuring the consistent application of best practices in mooring maintenance. This supports both the durability of the conservation benefits of marine infrastructure and the reliability of revenue generation from the services provided to MPA visitors.

The exchange visit was an initiative of the MPAConnect network, a partnership between the Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries Institute and the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Coral Reef Conservation Program to share best practices and experience among Caribbean coral reef managers. Delonie Forman, TASA's Tourism Business Developer, participated in the exchange and remarked that this knowledge exchange had been one of the most impactful experiences she has had working in conservation. Roatan Marine Park's Executive Director, Francis Lean, said that the success of their programs is thanks to a passionate team, an engaged community, and reliable funding. As an NGO, securing financing is one of the most complex tasks, and they have learned that diversifying funding sources is vital to success, demanding creativity. They must also search for efficiencies, and they shared with TASA how they address the challenges of business development and logistics by applying new technology, effective communications, and marketing strategies.

The Executive Director of TASA, Valdemar Andrade, added that this exchange visit to Roatan is a step in the right direction towards achieving sustainable financing for the conservation efforts of Belize's MPAs. TASA is committed to working towards a better future for the environment. This collaboration with RMP is an excellent example of what can be achieved through regional partnerships built through MPA Connect.

The exchange visit was a success, and the participating organizations are committed to implementing the lessons learned in their contexts. The MPAConnect network continues to provide a platform for sharing best practices and experiences among Caribbean coral reef managers, helping to build essential management capacity for sustainable financing that underpins the implementation of effective marine protected areas.

Source: Press Release MPA Connect Network

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