SOUTHERN ENVIRONMENTAL ASSOCIATION (SEA), is a non-governmental marine that proudly co-manages two protected areas; these are Laughing Bird Caye National Park (LBCNP) with the Belize Forest Department and Gladden Spit & Silk Cayes Marine Reserve (GSSCMR) with the Belize Fisheries Department. Both of these protected areas can be found in the Managed Access fishing area 3.
Laughing Bird Caye National Park (LBCNP) is situated on the western side of the Victoria Channel, approximately 11 miles off the coast from Placencia Village in the Stann Creek District, Belize. The park is a complete ‘No Take Zone’ (NTZ), which was declared as a protected area in 1991 and received inscription as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, one of seven areas along with the Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System (BBRRS) in 1996. LBC is named after the laughing gull which is one of the island’s residents and nests near the northern vegetated portion. LBCNP was cited by the 2018 Healthy Reef Report Card as one of only three well-managed areas across the MAR region that received an overall ‘good’ rating. This was due to its abundance in biodiversity and marine ecosystems.
Gladden Spit & Silk Cayes Marine Reserve (GSSCMR) lies about 22 miles off the coast of Placencia Village. It was established as a protected area in 2000 and was zoned in 2003. GSSCMR has a multi-use zonation, which includes: General Use Zone (GUZ), No Take Zone (NTZ), and Special Permit Zone (SPZ). Unlike LBCNP, commercial fishing is permitted within the GUZ and SPZ of the reserve. This marine reserve serves an intrinsic purpose, catering mainly to both fishing and tourism stakeholders. One of its most attractive features is the Spawning Aggregation site which attracts whale sharks during the full moon in the months of March-June.