Posted: Monday, October 3, 2022. 9:13 pm CST.
By Breaking Belize News Staff: Turneffe Flats, an internationally recognized fly fishing, scuba diving and ecotourism resort on Turneffe Atoll, and the Turneffe Atoll Sustainability Association (TASA), the official Co-manager of the Turneffe Atoll Marine Reserve (TAMR), today announced an innovative financing arrangement for the Reserve to enhance conservation initiatives for the long-term benefit of the Reserve and Belize, which will see Turneffe Flats provide TASA with BZ$1.5 million dollars over the next six years.
This Agreement outlines a partnership to provide critical resources for protecting Turneffe’s unique and special environment. TASA and Turneffe Flats expressed their mutual optimism about the future of the Turneffe Atoll Marine Reserve due to this unprecedented level of cooperation between tourism and marine conservation.
More than a decade ago, Turneffe Flats was influential in starting Turneffe’s marine reserve. Turneffe Flats owner and operator, Craig Hayes, notes that a well-financed and well-run marine reserve is crucial to the environmental health of Turneffe and to the future of our nature-based tourism.
Through this agreement, forty percent of the $1.5 million (BZD) will go toward general operating costs at TASA. The remaining sixty percent will be designated for specific agreed-upon conservation initiatives approved by Turneffe Flats.
As an important part of the Agreement, TASA and Turneffe Atoll Trust (TAT) have committed to working more closely for the benefit of Turneffe Atoll. Among TASA’S Commitments, the agreement ensures that an active commercial fishing stakeholder and a tourism stakeholder will hold seats on TASA’S Board. Working together, both organizations feel that Turneffe Atoll Marine Reserve will continue to grow as a model marine reserve.
Craig Hayes, Board Chairman and principal owner of Turneffe Flats, says “Marine nature-based tourism, as we so plentifully enjoy in Belize, is completely dependent upon a healthy environment. Sustaining the health and vitality of our marine environment is expensive and we feel that those benefiting most directly (tourists and tourism operators) should shoulder a larger share of the financial responsibility. We are extremely pleased to enter into this cutting-edge agreement with TASA to meet our financial responsibilities while creating the opportunity to directly influence the conservation principles we feel most strongly about. In addition to our commitment to TASA, Turneffe Flats has recently committed to donating the majority our excess funds (beyond those required to effectively operate our business) to conservation efforts at Turneffe and throughout Belize. We view this as the best hope for true sustainable management of our coastal marine assets and ensuring our business’ long-term viability.”
Lindsay Garbutt, TASA’s Chairman, says, “Marine Reserve managers recognize that new and innovative methods are needed to adequately finance our MPAs. We applaud Turneffe Flats for recognizing that tourism benefits directly from well-run and fully-financed MPAs and for taking the initiative to institute this innovative approach to MPA financing.
“TASA has been pioneering new blended finance approaches for supporting the Turneffe Atoll Marine Reserve and we hope to build on this example of tourism and consenvation working together. All stakeholders of a well-funded marine reserve benefit from the Reserve’s effective management and conservation efforts, and as MPA Co-managers, we understand the value of such efforts on the ground and how they are critical to securing the future for our nature-based industries such as tourism.
We view this partnership with Turneffe Flats as the new way of accomplishing the conservation work and obtaining long-term support for the management of critical marine reserves such as Turneffe, while also creating jobs and improving the economy of Belize. The traditional ways of doing this level of conservation management via grant financing support has always been challenging and it has recently become even more challenging. Therefore, this model championed by Turneffe Flats, to sustain TASA as effective Reserve Co-managers is critical for the predictable and flexible funding needed.”
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