The coral reefs of Mesoamerica – Belize, Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico – are known for their striking beauty and colorful diversity, but are we doing enough to protect these natural underwater treasures? That is the focus of a just published study by the Healthy Reefs Initiative. Their 2014 Eco-Audit of the Mesoamerican Reef (MAR) Countries is a systematic multinational evaluation involving four countries, over 50 organizations and more than 350 analytical documents – and is thought to be the only multi-national environmental audit of its kind globally. It was verified by PriceWaterhouseCoopers – Costa Rica.
The region-wide results for 2014 measured a ‘Fair’ level of positive implementation (2.9 out of a possible score of 5.0); with Belize maintaining the highest score (3.2) followed closely by Mexico (3.1), Honduras (2.7), and Guatemala (2.4). The theme with the highest ranking (Good) was Research, Education and Awareness (3.9), followed by Marine Protected Areas (3.4), which also showed good improvement since the last audit. Sustainability in the Private Sector got a ‘Poor’ score (2.4), although it showed improvement since the last audit. Sanitation and Sewage Treatment had the lowest score (2.3) with no improvements. Additional NGO and government effort in improving sanitation will not only benefit the regions reefs but also the health of the millions of people living along the coast.