And ... What is a Marine Reserve for?
During our journey protecting the Isla Verde Reef, this question has arisen over and over again, adding the affirmative answers over the years and the experience that we are acquiring.
Starting from the premise that chaos reigns in the waters of our islands with very little vigilance, worse than on land and also lacking in planned management.
Looking for alternatives to protect the reef and somehow achieve a sustainable, scientific management, following the recipe of the teachers, we arrived at the concept of Reserve. These protected areas cannot be isolated, they need to be expanded so that there is interconnection.
To continue fishing we need to reserve spaces for the species to breed and grow, fishing them in waters outside the protected perimeter, that the reefs that are in shallow waters are not impacted by motorboats, that we have the force of law to correct sources of pollution that reaches these delicate marine organisms that protect the coast.
Without citizen participation with the government's economic situation, natural and / or marine reserves become paper, pro forma if there is no staff in charge of ensuring that the rules of these protected areas are met. That's what coordinated citizen surveillance is all about.
A reserve designation empowers citizens and this in turn increases participation and engagement across generations. By having a law that protects a place, many doors open, and the positive reaction is impressive because we realize that it is possible to protect our heritage. That is inspiration.
What we have observed on the reef after 7 years is that the populations of snapper, grunt, barb and parrotfish have increased. We are seeing more and more nurse sharks, which indicates that there is food and protection. We have a lot of work to do, but one thing that is clear: the designation of a Marine Reserve is the main tool to continue this effort.
Collaborating with other citizen groups willing to work seriously protecting the natural environment of our islands. That is our commitment.