Honduras and UK South Atlantic British Overseas Territories, mainly Falkland Islands are to share scientific experiences and develop potential projects that could enhance the Central American country's management of its marine coastal resources. With this purpose the Director of the South Atlantic Environmental Research Institute (SAERI), Dr Paul Brickle, visited Roatán and Tegucigalpa last week.
SAERI is based in the Falkland Islands and is partially funded by its Government. It aims to conduct world class research, teach students, and build capacity within and between the UK South Atlantic Overseas Territories (UK OTs) and other countries looking to further develop their scientific skills.
In Roatan, Dr Brickle met members of the Committee for the Order of the Bay Island’s Marine Space: the Institute of Forestry Conservation (ICF), the Free Touristic Zone of the Bay Islands (ZOLITUR), the Environmental Monitoring Unit of the Mayoralty of Santos Guardiola, Roatan Marine Park, the Bay Islands Conservation Association (BICA), Roatán Institute for Marine Sciences, and the Healthy Reefs Initiative.
Whilst in Tegucigalpa he had discussions with the Honduran Merchant Navy, the Honduran Directorate of Fisheries and Aquiculture (DIGEPESCA), the Honduran Association of Caribbean Fishermen (APESCA), and the Centre of Marine Studies (CEM).
During his visit, Dr Brickle received an update of Honduras main challenges to preserve and further develop its marine costal resources. The need to improve the data collection of marine species on the Atlantic coast of Honduras that could lead to the analysis of no-take zones and allow the regeneration of seabed banks was highlighted as a key concern. Like Honduras, the Falklands are particularly susceptible to the impacts of climate change, and both countries will explore the possibility of implementing medium and long term strategies to preserve the environment and encourage economic development.
As for next steps, Dr Brickle will consult with SAERI and other partners in the UK, including the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, to decide the best way forward, which in consultation with local stakeholders, could initially cover the main concerns raised during his visit. This might include a follow-up technical mission to collect essential information.
To mark his first visit to the country, Dr Paul Brickle said he was impressed by the richness of Honduras’ biodiversity and the excellent work local organizations are doing to address many of the country’s marine challenges.
I look forward to provide SAERI’s expertise and to further develop a strategy that could bolster scientific knowledge and economic growth, he underlined.
British Ambassador to Honduras Carolyn Davidson said that Dr Brickle’s visit to country set a milestone in the relationship between the Falklands and Honduras, and is an example on how bridges of collaboration can be built across Latin America.
The UK will always support the Falklands right of self determination in an environment of peace and cordiality between its natural neighbors.