Coral reefs sustain fisheries and tourism, the backbone of Belize´s economy and livelihoods. Coral reefs also provide coastal protection from the impact of tropical storms and hurricanes, by reducing exposure to strong waves, flooding and erosion. However, in turn, hurricanes inflict considerable damage to the reef reducing coral cover and structural complexity. Dislodgement and displacement of massive boulder colonies, broken tips and edges to total fragmentation of branched corals and sometimes structural fractures, are some of the effects of cyclone impact to the reef. Without intervention, affected organisms can be moved continuously by the current, become overturned or buried by sediment, leading to severe tissue loss and abrasion and preventing their reattachment and recovery. Addressing impacts quickly and effectively is critical to reduce the risk of subsequent damage to affected corals and for increasing the likelihood that reefs will continue to provide valuable services to local communities in the future.
Therefore, Belize Government through the Fisheries Department of the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, Forestry, the Environment, Sustainable Development and Immigration, hereby creates the Post-Storm Emergency Response Committee to address the effects caused by hurricanes in coral reefs.
Fisheries Department with the support of The Mesoamerican Reef Fund and The Nature Conservancy