KINGSTON, Jamaica -- The Convention for the Protection and Development of the Marine Environment of the Wider Caribbean Region, also known as the Cartagena Convention, and the Mesoamerican Reef Fund (MAR Fund) have signed a memorandum of cooperation. The objective of joining forces is to achieve common goals and enhance partnerships and synergies for conservation and sustainable management of coastal and marine resources in areas of mutual importance within the wider Caribbean region.
To attain this objective, they will make the best use of their joint experience and networks to seek international cooperation and to promote the implementation of mechanisms to sustainably manage coastal and marine ecosystems and improve institutional capacity through training and exchange of information among the countries of the region.
The Cartagena Convention is the regional, comprehensive, umbrella agreement for the conservation and sustainable use of the marine environment in the wider Caribbean region. The convention is supplemented by three protocols addressing oil spills, specially protected areas and wildlife (SPAW), and pollution from land-based sources and activities (LBS), which together emphasize the need for inclusion of an environmental dimension in the development process in order to minimize threats to the marine environment and to ensure the sound use of marine and coastal resources.
The MAR Fund is a four-country alliance whose primary purpose is to support the conservation and sustainable use of natural resources in the Mesoamerican Reef (MAR) eco-region. It operates as a privately managed fund that raises and allocates funding, while relying on the pre-existing technical, administrative, and financial capabilities and knowhow of its four founding members to operate on the ground: Protected Areas Conservation Trust (Belize), Fundación para la Conservación de los Recursos Naturales y Ambiente en Guatemala, Fundación Biosfera (Honduras), and Fondo Mexicano para la Conservación de la Naturaleza.
Both the Cartagena Convention and the MAR Fund “recognize the fundamental role played by coastal marine resources in development, because they ensure the permanence of the natural and cultural diversity, productivity of ecosystems and the goods and services they provide to peoples and communities and the planet.”
The first joint activity undertaken within the framework of this memorandum is a workshop on the control of lionfish in the MAR, which took place between May 22-23, 2014, in Guatemala City. The workshop shared experiences to define a control strategy for this invasive species, based on the lionfish regional strategy for the Caribbean.
It was convened with the financial support of the German Cooperation through KfW; the United Nations Environment Programme; the SPAW-RAC (Regional Activity Centre for the SPAW Protocol); MAR Fund; the National Commission of Natural Protected Areas (CONANP ) of Mexico; Reef Check ,and national authorities concerning the environment, protected areas and fisheries of Mexico, Belize, Guatemala and Honduras.
For two days, protected area administrators, fisheries authorities and experts from the MAR region and the insular Caribbean gathered to learn about the strategy that Caribbean countries have adopted in response to this threat and whose actions have been aimed primarily at education and awareness, building capacity on the capture of lionfish and techniques to handle the species, as well as incentives and marketing and advertising to promote its human consumption.
At the end of the workshop, organizers offered a lionfish tasting and recipe book for preparing dishes to the participants and thus promote the use of lionfish as not only palatable, but great-tasting food surrounding the MesoAmerican Reef.
The Cartagena Convention and the MAR Fund said they are excited about this new partnership and look forward to implementing more strategic activities to further conservation and protection of natural resources and the environmental goods and services provided by the wider Caribbean’s coastal and marine ecosystems.