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Here is Belize’s Reef Report Card

Belize is doing fairly good when it comes to our barrier reef. This was reported by the Healthy Reefs for Healthy People Initiative (HRI) in its 2018 Mesoamerican Reef Report Card today. The documents provide a glimpse of the condition and changes in this ancient living coral reef ecosystem. The 2018 Report Card records an improvement in reef health from ‘Poor’ in 2006 to ‘Fair’ this year, with the increase in three of the four indicators over the decade. Director for Healthy Reefs for Healthy People Initiative, Dr. Melanie McField spoke to Love News.


“For Belize, our Reef help index has increased from the last report card which was 2.5 we have gone up to 2.8. So that is the regional average so we are right in the average and it is an improvement and so that is the sum total of these four indicators of brief health that we look at. Col cover has increased; fish by a mass has increased both commercial fish and fish very slightly but it has increased. Unfortunately, the bad indicator that is the bad news is the fleshy microalgae. That has continued to increase and that’s the one we don’t want to see. It competes with Coral and good things for space and it can overgrow the reef and make it look fuzzy and brown. We protect the parrot fish back in 2009 and we have actually now seen in Belize that the biomass of that fish has been increasing and just this year we noted a slight decrease in the Macro algae in just Belize so we have some indication that this is begging to work but overall for the whole Meso- American reef fleshy Macroalgae is our biggest problem. Now there are some efforts underway to try to bring it back through receding programs and help it naturally come back and starting to see it come back in certain places. The places where that urchin has come back is absolutely clean and beautiful so we are going to look at ways that science can intervene and do some studies and help that urchin come back. There is also the Caribbean King Crab, that is a great herbivore; if it can come or we can help maybe through agriculture recede some of that crab into the reef we can potentially have less Macro Alga but the difficult thing that we are seeing is nutrients and sewage treatment; not being improved over this time frame and the fact that when you have all these nutrients the sewage actually has all these viruses and pathogens in it. That is leading to alga overgrowth and that actually can damage the coral through viruses and diseases that the Coral gets; that’s the main thing we need to work on I think it’s increasing more herbivores and looking at sewage treatments in other forms of nutrient runoff from land.”

This region also has less fully protected zone and less overall enforcement than other sub-regions in Belize.