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Belize outpaces region but overall reef health down

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Posted: Thursday, February 13, 2020. 5:19 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: The overall Reef Health Index (RHI) is down for the first time since measurements began in 2006, to 2.5 on a scale of 5 from 2.8.

However, Belize, in whose territory most of the sites (104 of 319) were observed, recorded an increase in RHI to 3 on a scale of 5, up from 2.8.

Dr. Melanie McField, Director of Healthy Reefs for Healthy People, cites increased coral cover and reduction of fleshy macroalgae which attacks coral reefs. The protection of herbivorous fish such as parrotfish has also been helpful.

However, the level of commercial fish species such as snapper and grouper is down, though Dr. McField could not say if overfishing and use of gill nets and other destructive equipment is a contributing factor.

The six subregions were rated best from the south (3.3 of 5) moving to the north (2.3).

Fisheries Administrator, Beverly Wade, says Cabinet has already passed measures to increase the percentage of protected areas at sea to 31 percent and no-take or replenishment zones to 16 percent.

We’ll have more in subsequent stories.

 

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