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Improving Livelihoods through Sustainable Fisheries and Conservation in Central America

The regional Management of Aquatic Resources and Economic Alternatives project worked in Central American Pacific and Caribbean coastal-marine areas to promote sustainable fisheries practices and ecosystem-based management approaches.
Through the regional program for Management of Aquatic Resources and Economic Alternatives, Chemonics and USAID helped to preserve and sustain Central America's extraordinary biodiversity.
The program focused on four pilot transboundary sites across seven countries (Belize, Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama): Gulf of Honduras, Islas de la Bahía and Miskito Coast, Cahuita/Bocas del Toro in the Caribbean, and the Gulf of Fonseca in the Pacific. Activities centered on five species of commercial value — spiny lobster, queen conch, grouper, red snapper, and mangrove cockles — as well as sea turtles and sharks, which are endangered species.

The program established itself as a legitimate means to confront economic issues while addressing environmental challenges by building strategic communication channels with relevant regional, national, and local authorities in the region, and by partnering with environment and fisheries authorities in each country. It also forged connections through the Central America Integration System and worked with the Central American Commission on Environment and Development and Organization of Fishing and Aquaculture in Central America.
While targeting issues on policies, laws, and regulations to strengthen and improve the regional policy framework, the program pursued integrated ecosystem-based management, minimized threats to coastal and marine species and ecosystems, and provided regulated access-rights mechanisms and productive alternatives to natural resources’ users in the region, including new fisheries-related livelihoods and sustainable tourism. It reduced threats that unsustainable fishing practices and coastal development pose to ecosystems and species, and laid the foundation for implementing access-rights mechanisms to achieve strengthened coastal and marine resources management and conservation in Central America.

Project Links

Project Results

  • 2,354,000 hectares in Central America operating under improved management practices
  • 1,606,497 sea turtle hatchlings protected and released in the region, contributing to ongoing conservation efforts
  • 11,591 fishermen, government officials, and non-governmental workers trained in improved fishing practices and biodiversity compliance
  • $11.2 million facilitated in sales of products and/or services that benefited more than 50 small and medium artisanal fishing businesses

Final report

Project duration: 2010 - 2015


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