BELIZE SEA TURTLE CONSERVATION NETWORK
The Turtle Network has members from government and NGOs involved in sea turtle conservation in Belize. Many of the members are managers or marine protected areas (MPAs) while some are actively involved in scientific research. The organization has grown over the past decade as more research and awareness of sea turtle conservation is conducted throughout Belize.
Goals & Objectives
- To recuperate and stabilize the marine turtle nesting populations on the coast and cayes of Belize.
- To standardize outreach, conservation and research programs with the aim of unifying criteria and activities for the management of the sea turtles nationwide.
- To have more involvement in decision making at the political level, in management, enforcement and use of marine turtles.
- The communities will have alternative livelihoods and shall participate in the conservation of marine turtles.
- The Turtle Network plays a key role in the conservation of marine turtles.
Roles & Responsibilities
- Ensure that relevant commitments by the regional sea turtle networks are carried through in country.
- Provide feedback to the regional sea turtle networks on the activities of the BSTCN.
- To be informed of proposed development, tourism activities, or research projects that may affect sea turtles or their habitat, and provide recommendations to the appropriate permitting Department or Ministry.
- Review legislation concerning sea turtles and provide recommendations for amendments to the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (MAF).
- Ensure sound management plans for protected areas include protection of sea turtles by reviewing draft plans.
- Ensure that the activities included in the Belize Sea Turtle Recovery Action Plan (STRAP) are completed and that the STRAP is updated every five years.
- Ensure standardization of outreach programs, conservation, and research and monitoring protocols within Belize.
- To share data gathered on sea turtle research activities with network members.
Marine Protected Areas Managed by the Fisheries Department
The Belize Fisheries Department chairs the meetings of the Turtle Network and guide the discussions and decisions. The Fisheries Department is responsible for enforcing the Fisheries Regulations which protect sea turtles. They manage five marine protected areas which employ biologists that are actively involved in monitoring sea turtle activity in their daily duties.
Bacalar Chico Marine Reserve
Belize's northernmost protected area borders Mexico. It extends southward on the eastern shores of Ambergris Caye to Basil Jones just south of Rocky Point. There are miles of important nesting beach within the reserve that is jointly monitored by staff from Bacalar Chico and Hol Chan.
Hol Chan Marine Reserve
The staff at Hol Chan Marine Reserve are actively involved in educating the community on sea turtle conservation. They receive many stranded sea turtles from residents throughout the year and biologists rehabilitate the stranded turtles at their office on San Pedro and at Bacalar Chico Marine Reserve. The two MPAs work together to monitor the miles of nesting beach and work with Caye Caulker on the annual in-water surveys.
South Water Caye Marine Reserve
The SWCMR is one of the largest marine protected areas in Belize extending from Tobacco Caye in the north to islands east of Placencia along the central Belize Barrier Reef along it's southern border. Biologists actively monitor nesting activity at two key nesting beaches - Tobacco Caye and South Water Caye and have participated in the Annual In-Water Sea Turtle Survey in 2011.
Other quasi Government Agencies
Involved in Sea Turtle Conservation
University of Belize Environmental Research Institute
The University of Belize's Environmental Research Institute manages the Calabash Caye Research Station where they conduct regular monitoring of the sandy beaches within the atoll and have participated in the annual in-water sea turtle survey. The ERI is actively involved in identifying research priority areas which include sea turtles.
Non Governmental Organizations
that coManage Marine Protected Areas
Belize Audubon Society
The Belize Audubon Society are the caretakers of the Blue Hole National Park and the Half Moon Caye Natural Monument. in 1996 these parks became part of the Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System World Heritage Site. The Marine Protected Areas Manager and other staff based at Half Moon Caye conduct regular monitoring of sea turtle nesting activity within the atoll.
Southern Environmental Association
SEA manages three important marine reserves along the southern Belize Barrier Reef - Laughingbird Caye, Gladden Spit and the Silk Cayes and the Sapodilla Cayes Marine Reserves. There are many islands within the three MPAs that their biologists regularly monitor for sea turtle nesting activity and participated in the annual in-water sea turtle survey in 2011. SEA also actively promotes outreach on sea turtle conservation in the surrounding communities and monitors the Placencia Peninsula as well.
Gales Point Wildlife Sanctuary Management Committee
The beach along the mainland coast east of Gales Point support Belize's largest known concentration of the endangered hawksbill sea turtle. The Gales Point Wildlife Sanctuary Management Committee monitors the beach south of the Bar Mouth for sea turtle activity and protects nests from predators.
Toledo Institute for Development & Environment
TIDE manages the Port Honduras Marine Reserve which encompasses 6 miles of sandy beach along mainland Belize from Monkey River to Punta Ycacos and numerous islands, all important for nesting sea turtles. TIDE is actively involved in monitoring the nesting beaches and participated in the annual in-water survey in 2011. They are also actively involved in promoting awareness of sea turtle conservation within their community and monitoring illegal take.
Non Governmental Organizations
involved in Sea Turtle Conservation
Environmental Conservation Organization
ECOMAR, in partnership with the Belize Fisheries Department with support from the World Wildlife Fund, PACT and GCFI and members of the Turtle Network, launched the Belize Turtle Watch Program in 2011. ECOMAR also coordinates in-water research programs at Gallow's Point and Robinson Point. ECOMAR founder Linda Searle is a Belize Country Coordinator for WIDECAST (Wider Caribbean Sea Turtle Conservation Network).
Wildlife Conservation Society
WCS has a field station at Glover's Atoll and conducts annual in-water monitoring throughout the atoll. Their staff are actively involved in promoting sea turtle conservation in Belize and are represent Belize within international organizations including WIDECAST and the Inter-American Sea Turtle Convention (IAC).
The Oceanic Society recently closed down it's field station on Blackbird Caye, Turneffe Atoll, after operating in Belize since the 1990s. They were involved in monitoring dolphins and manatees at their base from Spanish Lookout Caye in the Drowned Cayes and from their new base at Turneffe. Field staff Alton Jeffords monitored nesting turtles at southern Blackbird Caye. Oceanic Society's new director, Rod Mast, publishes the annual SWOT (State of the World's Turtles) report.
World Wildlife Fund
One of WWF's flagship species is the sea turtles. Around the globe WWF is monitoring impacts of climate change on sea turtles. Here in Belize that was the founding premise of the Belize Turtle Watch Program with the underlying goal to identify the impacts of climate change on sea turtles in Belize with the goal of mitigating these impacts.
Would you like to become a member?
The Terms of Reference for the Belize Sea Turtle Conservation Network state that all organizations and persons interested in becoming a member of the Belize Turtle Network must submit a letter to the Chairman outlining their organizations work, reasons for wanting to become a member and how they can contribute to the goals of the group.
Please submit your request to:
Belize Sea Turtle Conservation Network
c/o Belize Fisheries Department
Princess Margaret Drive
TEL: + (501) 224-4552
Stranding Report - Please use this form to record your observations of any stranded sea turtles and submit to the Fisheries Department