The Mesoamerican Reef System (MAR) is the most important reef in the western hemisphere; it extends for more than 1,000 km along the coasts of Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, and Honduras. The health of the MAR is critically threatened by overfishing, algal blooms on corals, water pollution, and global warming.
Despite regulatory efforts in the marine-coastal zones of the Yucatan Peninsula, fishery production of some commercially and ecologically valuable species continues to decline significantly. The Healthy Reefs for Healthy People Initiative (HRI) 2022 report reveals that the Reef Health Index (RHI) has fallen again; 44% of sites are in a "Poor" condition, and "Critical" sites have doubled (now 31%) since the last report.
Fish populations are now critically low in all countries except Mexico. Cozumel is the only sub-region with "Very Good" conditions for commercial and herbivorous fish, with grouper and snapper biomass five times the regional average. This site has had the highest percentage of its area fully protected for decades (35%), so these data demonstrate the value of complete protection, particularly when local communities are involved in the management and benefit economically.
The Kanan Kay Alliance seeks to contribute to the consolidation of responsible fisheries management to recover the biological richness and productivity of small-scale fisheries in the Yucatan Peninsula by facilitating collaborative processes and shared actions through FRZ.
FRZs are no-fishing zones that allow the reproduction and recovery of marine species, contributing to conserving marine biodiversity and improving the well-being of the communities that depend on these resources. They are an instrument of the National Fishing Policy, which may well be part of the subzone of a protected natural area.
Its operation is based on protecting critical habitats, especially breeding, feeding, and nursery areas. These actions lead to the "spillover effect," i.e., the repopulation of species of commercial and ecological interest in nearby fishing areas.