Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Marine Affairs


People throughout the Caribbean depend on fishery resources for subsistence and income. Overfishing is a concern in many areas and the need for resource management is apparent. Coral reef protected areas are being used to maintain sustainable tropical reef fisheries. This research examined the effectiveness of the Hol Chan marine Reserve (HCMR), Belize, in meeting fisheries management objectives. Fishes were surveyed within the HCMR and in a comparable non-protected site to examine changes in fish community structure over time in the HCMR and between protected and non-protected sites. Results show that abundance, mean length, biomass, and species richness of commercially important species are generally greater in the MCMR in 1991 than in 1988 and greater in the HCMR than in the non-protected site. Local tourist guides were surveyed to determine if the expanding tourist industry is providing alternative employment for fishers, thus alleviating fishing pressure. Results indicate that some previously full time fishers are earning substantial income from tourist activities. This thesis begins with an Introduction detailing the purpose and importance of the study. Chapter II provides a review of literature describing scientific and theoretical basis for establishment of coral reef protected areas to protect fishery resources and the role in the tourist industry. Chapter III summarizes the need for and management structure of the HCMR. Chapter IV describes study sites and research methods used. Results of the study and a discussion is presented in Chapter V. The thesis closes with conclusions and recommendations in Chapter VI.