We are in the World’s 2nd Longest Barrier Reef!

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010

Do you know where the longest barrier reef is located? It is found in Australia and it is called the Great Barrier Reef. It is so long it can even be seen from space. Ours, the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System (MBRS), is 900 km long- 1/3 of the Great Barrier Reef- which is 2,000 km long. Roatán forms the southernmost part of the MBRS which extends all the way from Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula down to Belize, Guatemala and ends up in the Bay Islands of Honduras. The MBRS is unique in its biological diversity and socio-economic importance as a source of subsistence for coastal communities.

Protected areas located in the MBRS contribute to the stabilization and protection of the coastal landscape, maintaining the quality of coastal water, and they are a place for the feeding and reproduction of marine mammals, reptiles, fish and invertebrates, many of which are of commercial importance. Also, the marine species are part of a large connectivity linkage. Unfortunately, there are a growing number of threats to the MBRS, from increased sedimentation from deforestation, overfishing of large predators and herbivores, and nutrients from untreated waste waters. All these impacts lessen the resilience of coral reef ecosystems.

Therefore, it’s urgent to ensure a sustainable management of the region’s marine natural resources. The countries within the MBRS have committed and declared the rescue, restoration, conservation and effective management. For this reason policies and regulations are being promoted at the regional and national levels and are being applied from the island of Contoy in the north of the Yucatan Peninsula, to the Bay Islands of Honduras. Locally, the Sandy Bay West End Marine Reserve is being managed by the Roatán Marine Park, through the promotion of research, education and conservation of our island’s valuable reefs.