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Office Coastal Zone Management Complex, Princess Margaret Drive, Belize City

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Belize City
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30 by 2030

Belize is fully committed to the target of “30 by 2030” and continues to do its part in ensuring that the World’s Oceans remain healthy and productive for the global citizenry.




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International Agreements and Conventions

Belize is internationally known for its conservation efforts. Our Nation subscribes to various international agreements, conventions and regional management organizations for the sustainable use and protection of biodiversity. As a member to these various organisations, Belize participates in annual workshops, Convention of the Parties (COP) meetings and scientific meetings. The Fisheries Department and its local partners contribute and support critical conservation research and data collection.


Reach out to us with your questions. Our technical teams can help.
International Commitments

The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora is an international agreement between governments. Its aim is to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival. Although CITES is legally binding on the Parties, now 180, it does not take the place of national laws. Rather it provides a framework to be respected by each Party, which has to adopt its own domestic legislation to ensure that CITES is implemented at the national level. Belize was previously Party to CITES as part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland since October 31, 1976. It joined as an independent nation on September 21, 1981.CITES Belize is composed of the Management Authority made up of forest and fisheries officers and the Scientific Authority comprised of various members from the different fields of expertise. The Fisheries Department is responsible for all aquatic related species transactions. Two thousand seven hundred and fifty seven Queen Conch, Strombus gigas, pearls were exported in 2014 (figure 18) to various countries (figure 19). S. gigas is in Appendix II of the Convention. On September 14, 2014, five shark and two ray species were also listed in Appendix II. On the same date the CITES introduction-from-the-sea provisions also came into effect. These two new measure were adopted at the last CITES CoP 16 in March 2013.

The Inter-American Convention for the Protection and Conservation of Sea Turtles is an intergovernmental treaty which provides the legal framework for countries in the American Continent to take actions in benefit of these species. The IAC entered into force in May of 2001 and currently has fifteen Contracting Parties. The Convention promotes the protection, conservation and recovery of the populations of sea turtles and those habitats on which they depend, on the basis of the best available data and taking into consideration the environmental, socioeconomic and cultural characteristics of the Parties. These actions should cover both nesting beaches and the Parties’ territorial waters.
The International Coral Reef Initiative (ICRI) is an informal partnership between nations and organizations which strives to preserve coral reefs and related ecosystems around the world. The Initiative was founded in 1994 by eight governments and now it has over sixty members. ICRI’s objectives are to:
  1. Encourage the adoption of best practice in sustainable management of coral reefs and associated ecosystems;
  2. Build capacity; and
  3. Raise awareness at all levels on the plight of coral reefs around the world.
ICRI adopted a ‘Call to Action’ and a ‘Framework for Action’ as its foundational documents. Both documents set the four cornerstones of ICRI: Integrated Management; Science; Capacity Building and Review. The present Secretariat is being hosted by Japan and Thailand. Australia and Belize hosted the 2012-2014 Secretariat.
It is a regional subsidiary body of the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC). It is the IOC Sub-Commission for the Caribbean and Adjacent Regions and is responsible for the promotion, development and co-ordination of IOC marine scientific research programmes, the ocean services, and related activities, including training, education and mutual assistance (TEMA) in the Caribbean and Adjacent Regions. In establishing its programmes, it takes into account the specific interests and needs of the Member States in the region. IOCARIBE can be envisaged as an international networking system created by the Governments of Member States, for the co-ordination and promotion of marine and coastal sciences and associated operational services in the region. Its major objectives are to:
  1. Reinforce and broaden scientific co-operation, regionally and internationally through networking and institutional arrangements with organizations operating within and without the region, for example, UN bodies, IGOs, NGOs, the scientific community;
  2. Provide regional input to global ocean sciences and observation programmes;
  3. Promote and facilitate implementation of IOC global science programmes and ocean services at the regional level;
  4. Foster the generation of knowledge, sharing of information, expertise and experience on the wider Caribbean and its coastlines; and
  5. Assist Member States to develop their capacity to formulate national policies and plans to meet their needs in marine science and technology.

On 18 December 1995 the Fisheries and Aquaculture Authorities of Central America, aware that the fisheries resources in their territorial waters are common property; that the vast majority of those resources are migratory or highly migratory and that both the opportunities and challenges of development are similar, constituted the “Act of San Salvador” known as the Central American Fisheries and Aquaculture Organization (OSPESCA for its Spanish acronym).


OSPESCA aims to promote a sustainable and coordinated development of fisheries and aquaculture in the context of the Central American integration process by defining, approving and implementing policies, strategies, programs and projects of regional fisheries and aquaculture.


  1. Promote the Fisheries and Aquaculture Integration Policy;
  2. Promote and monitor the Regional Treaty Framework on Fisheries and Aquaculture;
  3. Coordinate inter-agency and cross-regional efforts for fisheries development in the OSPESCA Countries with an ecosystem and interdisciplinary approach;
  4. Join efforts to harmonize and implement the fisheries and aquaculture laws;
  5. Develop and promote strategies, programs, projects or regional agreements on fisheries and aquaculture;
  6. Promote regional organization of fisheries and aquaculture producers;
  7. Coordinate an adequate and regional participation in international forums related to fisheries and aquaculture.
Under the Cartagena Convention the Protocol concerning Specially Protected Areas and Wildlife (SPAW) was created and it has been internationally recognized as the most comprehensive treaty of its kind. It was adopted in Kingston, Jamaica, by the member governments of the Caribbean Environment Programme on 18 January 1990. The SPAW Protocol utilizes an ecosystem approach to conservation when it entered into force on 18 June 2000. Belize ratified the Protocol in 2010. The Protocol acts as a vehicle to assist with regional implementation of the broader and more demanding global Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).
National Commitments
Mission The Mission of the Network is to improve the conservation status of marine turtles in Belize through research, monitoring, protection, political lobbying, and planning, training and public awareness. Goals
  1. To recuperate and stabilize the marine turtle nesting populations on the coast and cayes of Belize.
  2. To standardize outreach, conservation and research programs with the aim of unifying criteria and activities for the management of the sea turtles nationwide.
  3. To have more involvement in decision making at the political level, in management, enforcement and use of marine turtles.
  4. To include community participation in the conservation of marine turtles.
  5. The Turtle Network plays a key role in the conservation of marine turtles.
Scope & Function Due to Belize’s location on the coast of Central America and in the Western Caribbean it is a member of both the Regional Network for the Conservation of Sea Turtles in Central America (RED Centroamericana) and WIDECAST (Wider Caribbean Sea Turtle Conservation Network). The Belize Sea Turtle Conservation Network (BSTCN) roles are outlined below.
  1. Ensure that relevant commitments by the regional sea turtle networks are carried through in country.
  2. Provide feedback to the regional sea turtle networks on the activities of the BSTCN.
  3. 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.
  4. Review legislation concerning sea turtles and provide recommendations for amendments to the Ministry of Ministry of Agriculture Fisheries, Forestry, Environment and Sustainable Development (MAFFESD).
  5. Ensure sound management plans for protected areas include protection of sea turtles by reviewing draft plans.
  6. 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.
  7. Ensure standardization of outreach programs, conservation, and research and monitoring protocols within Belize.
  8. To share data gathered on sea turtle research activities with network members.
Members The Belize Sea Turtle Conservation Network is a group of local and International organizations including government and non-government organizations, and research institutions that represent the regional sea turtle conservation network at the national level.

The National Protected Areas Secretariat is under the Ministry of Forestry, Fisheries and Sustainable Development. Since the Fisheries Department is one of the legislative authorities to manage marine protected areas, mainly those of marine reserve designation, it forms part of the NPAS as a member of its Board and Technical Advisory Committee. The work of the NPAS is to guide the implementation process of the National Protected Areas System Plan which has the following objectives:

  1. Consolidating the administrative structure that maintains coordinated action in the implementation of the system plan;
  2. Creating a functional protected areas system by securing environmental, social and economic benefits and creating a solid foundation for further development as a comprehensive system.
  3. Ensuring a comprehensive National Protected Areas System by incorporating areas required to obtain a fully comprehensive national system.
  4. Consolidating and simplifying the protected area system by amalgamating adjacent sites into single multi-zoned management units, allowing a more coherent approach at a landscape and seascape

Website Link –

The Belize National Spawning Aggregation Working Group was established in July 2001 in response to a nation-wide survey of spawning aggregations of the Nassau grouper in early 2001 that revealed very low numbers of spawning fish.   During 2002 a coalition of seven NGOs worked successfully to protect 11 of the Nassau grouper spawning sites, and to introduce a four-month closed season. Since early 2003, the Working Group was revitalized and has been meeting regularly on a quarterly basis to share data and develop management strategies.

Goal and Objectives

The Spawning Aggregation Working Group’s goal is “To determine the success of management measures in enhancing Nassau grouper spawning aggregations.”   In an effort to attain this goal the Group’s objectives are:

  1. To manage, monitor and patrol spawning aggregation sites for the next five years, including  monitoring the impact of use on the sites
  2. To involve the stakeholders in monitoring, research, and patrolling of spawning aggregation sites
  3. To create, house, and maintain a spawning aggregation database
  4. To analyse the data and provide recommendations for the conservation, protection and sustainable use of the sites
  5. To disseminate information for the education of all stakeholders
  6. To utilize the information to advocate for and build support for the management, conservation, protection and sustainable use of the spawning aggregation sites
  7. To support other initiatives that contribute to this general goal
  8. To promote alternatives for the traditional users of spawning aggregation sites.

Main Activities

  1. Monitoring:  Seven sites are monitored as regularly as possible and include:  Rocky Pt. (Bacalar Chico Marine Reserve), Dogflea Caye (Turneffe Islands), Sandbore (Lighthouse Reef), Emily/Caye Glory, Gladden Spit (Gladden Spit and Silk Cayes Marine Reserve), Northeast Point (Glover’s Reef Marine Reserve) and Nicholas Caye (Sapodilla Cayes Marine Reserve).  The monitoring teams are guided by the Reef Fish Spawning Aggregation Monitoring Protocol for the Mesoamerican Reef and Wider Caribbean.
  2. Data Storage and Analysis:  The Working Group manages a database in which all monitoring data are stored.  Recently the Group developed a web-based database to make data entry and retrieval more efficient.  Efforts are underway to re-enter all data in this new online database.  Once this process is completed, the Group will then be able to generate reports that will be useful for management purposes.  Use of the database is governed by a data sharing agreement, which has been signed by participating members.  Dive safety is a prime concern of the Working Group, which has developed emergency procedure guidelines  and keeps and up-to-date record of dive team members.
  3. Public Awareness: The Group has published a series of newsletters, two posters, and TV spots.  The main aim of this program is to keep stakeholders, particularly fishermen, informed of management progress and the results of the monitoring, to publicize the vulnerability of fish spawning aggregations and the conservation measures taken in Belize to preserve them through full protection of the sites and a closed season for the Nassau grouper.
  4. Training:  Dive team members receive regular refresher courses in the monitoring protocol and other procedures.  For example, many members recently participated in a DAN oxygen provider course.


Regional Projects
The “Catalysing Implementation of the Strategic Action Programme (SAP) for the Sustainable Management of shared Living Marine Resources in the Caribbean and North Brazil Shelf Large Marine Ecosystems” Project will be supported by the GEF through a financial contribution of US$ 12.5 million for five years. The objective of the CLME+ Project is to facilitate Ecosystem-Based Management (EBM) and the implementation of the Ecosystem Approach for the management of key fisheries in the CLME+, to ensure the sustainable and climate resilient provision of goods and services from shared living marine resources. The CLME+ Project will seek to foster collaboration with and among other projects and initiatives (both GEF and non-GEF) that are of relevance to the SAP.
The Coastal Marine Atlas 2 project will develop a regional data, information and services sharing platform that will contribute to the development of national and regional atlases and related products and services to support Decision Making (DM) and Monitoring & Evaluation (M&E) processes for improved marine and coastal resources management in the region composed by the Caribbean and North Brazil Shelf Large Marine Ecosystems. The platform will be piloted in selected countries for regional and national-level consultation and decision-making. Training, awareness building and dissemination activities will be conducted.
The Integrated Transboundary Ridges-to-Reef Management of the Mesoamerican Reef Project will be a five year $9 million US GEF Project which will be executed by World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the Central American Commission on Environment and Development (CCAD). The four participating countries will be Mexico, Belize, Guatemala and Honduras. The main objectives will be:
  1. Catalyzing multi-state cooperation to balance conflicting water uses in transboundary surface and groundwater basins while considering climatic variability and change;
  2. Catalyzing multi-state cooperation to rebuild marine fisheries and reduce pollution of coasts and Large Marine Ecosystems while considering climatic variability and change; and
  3. Support foundational capacity building for joint, ecosystem-based management of transboundary water systems.

Title of Project:

Supporting Developing Countries in analysing and implementing evidence-based and policy coherent oceans economy and trade strategies (OETS).



To support developing countries (Barbados, Belize & Costa Rica) in realizing economic benefits from the sustainable use of its marine resources; promote the sustainable trade of products and services in ocean economy based sectors and contribute to building national capacities to implement them; contribute towards developing enabling national policy and regulatory frameworks for the sustainable management of the oceans and support the implementation of SDG 14: Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.


Further details:



The Belize Fisheries Department in partnership with the Directorate General of Foreign Trade is pleased to share the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and the UN Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea (DOALOS) “Oceans Economy and Trade Strategy: Belize marine fisheries and seafood processing sectors”. This Report was developed as a consequence of various stakeholder participation and inputs received during the first and second OETS Stakeholders Workshops (2018 and 2019) and captures the necessary strategic actions aimed at promoting and improving the economic activity and sustainable use of goods and services derived from the marine environment in Belize. In 2021, the Action Plan will be used to guide the implementation of specific strategic actions geared towards the development of the marine finfish (deep slope) fishery and the adding of value to the lobster and conch fishery.


Oceans Economy and Trade Strategy: Belize marine fisheries and seafood processing sectors

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