Turneffe Atoll Marine Reserve (TAMR) was officially established on November 22nd, 2012; after 20 years of arduous lobbying from all the different stakeholder groups. TAMR is Belize’s largest and most biological diverse marine reserve in the Western Hemisphere. Located approximate 20 miles east from Belize coast, this reserve features important and interconnected network of marine ecosystems, such as: reef, back reef flats, seagrass beds, creeks, lagoons, littoral forests and mangroves. After the reserve was declared, in October 2013, the Ministry of Forestry, Fisheries and Sustainable Development designated Turneffe Atoll Sustainability Association (TASA), a non-profit non-governmental organization as the Co-manager of the day to day operations of the marine reserve.
TASA’s work focus is in promoting the sustainable use and conservation of the marine ecosystems for future generations through active stakeholder stewardship. TASA was established in the manner that it keeps key stakeholder groups informed and involved in the sound management of the Turneffe Atoll Marine Reserve. These key stakeholder groups are represented on TASA’s Board of Directors and are directly involved in decision making at the highest levels.
TASA’s management efforts are guided by the TAMR Management Plan with focus on: Natural Resource Management (includes Fisheries Management), Science, Education and Outreach, Infrastructure, and Administration.
Turneffe Atoll Marine Reserve features an array of biological importance to Belize such as: of being an important nursery grounds for Queen conch, Caribbean spiny lobster, any many reef fishes; it supports healthy populations of Antillean manatees, American crocodiles, and dolphins; it has suitable nesting grounds for Green, Loggerhead, and Hawksbill turtles, and has 5 known fish spawning aggregation sites.
TAMR is of great socioeconomic importance to all stakeholders and to the country of Belize. For many decades the atoll has been crucial to commercial fishermen’s livelihoods in providing a form of job and income for their families. The atoll has also contributed to Belize’s growing Tourism and Fishing Industries. The marvellous reef structure of the atoll has served as a barrier for protection from storm affecting the coast of Belize. Furthermore, it is hope that TAMR will become one of the pioneers in research and marine education in Belize due to its unique biological and geographical characteristics.