The Roatán Marine Park (RMP) is a community-based non-profit organization formed in 2005 to protect the reefs around Roatán. Initially, the goal was to run a patrol program within the Sandy Bay-West End Marine Reserve to prevent the reef destruction caused by unsustainable fishing practices there, but since then the scope of the organization has grown significantly.
Today, the Roatán Marine Park aims to protect Roatán´s natural resources through sustainable infrastructure improvements, educational outreach, patrols, conservation efforts, public awareness programmes, and alternative livelihood options for local communities.
In 2017, an East End Chapter of the organisation was established in an effort to be active on the entire island.
Even though the issues are complex and the work difficult, many things are moving in the right direction. For the 2019 season, there was a noticeable increase in fish coverage and a 200% increase in turtle nesting.
The marine infrastructure programme
One example of a programme organised under the RMP umbrella is the marine infrastructure programme, which is both helping to safeguard the reef and making the waters around Roatán safer to experience.
Reef anchoring and boat collisions is causing mechanical damage to reefs, and collisions can also result in boat fuel being dumped into the sea. The marine infrastructure program was therefore established to create anchoring alternatives and marked channels around Roatán.
As of 2022, 39 channels have been marked with between one and six markers – and for each channel there is at least one solar beacon marker. Markers have also been added to certain areas within the lagoon to make navigation safer and reduce the risk of collisions there, and encourage snorkellers to stay away from certain spots.
The program has also installed (and is maintaining) 320+ dive and snorkel moorings.