In August 2020, the Belizean government enacted two conservation efforts — the expansion of the Sapodilla Cayes Marine Reserve to be seven times its original size, and a plan to phase out gillnet fishing by 2022. The Sapodilla Cayes Marine Reserve contains the ecologically important Corona Reef, which has been threatened by transboundary illegal fishing in the past. The marine reserve expansion has helped Belize meet its international commitment to the Convention on Biological Diversity’s Aichi Target 11, which calls for nations to protect at least 10% of their marine environments by 2020. In order to bring gillnet fishing to an end, the Belizean government will help fishers transition to more sustainable livelihoods. Belize, a tiny Central American nation nestled beside the Caribbean Sea, is making giant strides in its ocean conservation efforts. In the short space of a month, the government made two big decisions to help protect its oceans: it expanded an existing marine reserve to cover an ecologically important reef complex, and initiated the process of establishing a nationwide ban on gillnet fishing. The first decision came in the first week of August. Omar Figueroa, Belize’s minister of fisheries, forestry, environment and sustainable development, signed off […]

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