Ecosystem Monitoring in the Community Marine Reserves of Parque Nacional Arrecife in Puerto Morelos, Quintana Roo

Mesoamerican Coral Reef

Marine Reserves

OBJECTIVE: To recover coral reef species populations and their habitats in Puerto Morelos – currently overexploited due to commercial fishery – through a continuous monitoring of fishing and marine recovery areas. (Closed project)

Coral reefs are ecosystems with unique features like structural complexity and intricate trophic interactions. They are also home to a great variety of species. Moreover, these ecosystems provide natural environmental services like coastline protection during storms and hurricanes. They also create sand for beaches and generate 10% of worldwide fishing production.

To prevent resource overexploitation, and to maintain essential ecosystems for reef species in good conditions, it is necessary to establish proper management to ensure their conservation and sustainability. This may be achieved through fishery management based on the ecosystem, including marine recovery zones (no-take areas located in critical sites). In these areas, organisms grow bigger, and develop a higher reproductive potential. Plus, adjacent zones benefit from the migration of young and adult individuals, and from the arrival of eggs and larvae from the marine recovery areas.

COBI, in collaboration with the Pescadores de Puerto Morelos Cooperative, carried out this project to assess, through continuous monitoring, all changes occurring in fishing and marine recovery areas. The goal was to help the recovery of the populations of coral reef species (overexploited due to commercial fishing) and their habitats.

The main outcomes of this project are:

–               A group of local fishers were trained in ecological monitoring techniques

–              A biodiversity baseline was generated, serving as a reference point for evaluating the ecological health of the reef

–              A set of health indicators was collected in the communities, including information on what changed after fishing was halted

–              A pilot project was established for the control of lion fish

Subscribe to Newsletter