Roatan Marine Park

Surface Area: 47,152.49 ha.
Zone 1: Costal Zone
Zone 2: Special Marine Area
Zone 3: Buffer Zone

The Roatan Marine Park is part of the larger marine park, namely, The Bay Islands Marine National Park (Parque National Marino Islas de la Bahia ) also known as "PNMIB." The Bay Islands Marine Park has a surface area of 47,152.49 ha,
divided into three zones. 

The Roatan Marine Park, together with the Bay Island Marine Park protects a significant sample of the reef ecosystem known as the Mesoamerican Reef System (Sistema Arrecifal Mesoamericano "SAM"). This reef system is threatened by global impacts such as climate change and pollution from terrestrial sources. 



Protected Habitat

  • 91 Protected Areas
  • 999,196.72 ha
  • 36% of National Territory

The habitats protected by the Roatan's Marine Park and PNMIB are the basis of the tourist economy and communities of the Bay Islands. The Bay Island Marine Park engulfs all of the Bay Islands. Most of the work revolves around the three largest islands (Roatan, Utila, and Guanaja) because these are the most visited islands and the areas more prone to deterioration. 

Among its many objectives, the Roatan Marine Park and the Bay Islands Marine Part, in general, intends to impacts and enable non-destructive and unsustainable uses while keeping and preserving critical habitats. 


Management Scheme

A dynamic and multifaceted management scheme will allow all parties of interest to work in partnership for common achievements and goals. Also, the Roatan Marine Park programs include measures related to managing climate changes and the management of lionfish as a current exotic (but invasive) species. Funding for the Bay Islands Marine park was submitted for approval and assumed the total cost of ideal management scenarios and practices.


91 Areas Protected

  • Area = 999,196 ha.

Honduras has an estimated 91 protected natural areas.  Some of these areas are proposals, and some are declared, distributed in 50 priority and 41 non-priority, in 18 different categories of management, covering an area of 999,196.72 ha (ICF & DAP), which makes up approximately 36% of the national territory. These protected wilderness areas (ASPs) provide valuable goods and services to local and Honduran society in general. However, we cannot ignore that ASPs are threatened directly or indirectly by various activities of the anthropic order. These activities, are often carried out without adequate planning, therefore; it has become urgent to adopt technical standards that improve the management of protected areas. Appropriate management of Roatan's protected areas could help avoid the "loss and deterioration of biodiversity" harbored in these areas.



The Forest Sector and Protected Areas of Wildlife in Honduras, and the National Institute of Forest Conservation & Development, the Protected Areas and Wildlife (ICF), have as key functions the: 

"Ensuring the faithful compliance of conservation an biodiversity, as well as; promote the development of the Sector in all its social components, economic, cultural and environmental issues within a framework of sustainability "


Biodiversity Commitments

The conservation of the biodiversity and that the commitments made by the State of Honduras at a national and international level achieve sustainable development, the ICF has made efforts towards an adequate regulation of the management of the National System of Protected Areas and Wildlife of Honduras (SINAPH) (ICF & DAP).



Protected by Decree

The Bay Islands Marine National Park (PNMIB), located in the Department of the Bay Islands, was declared protected area by Decree of the National Congress of the Republic of Honduras. This decree includes the entire coastal area of he Islands of Roatan, Utila, and Guanaja, between the high tide line 10 m inland and thence up to 60 m deep, while as Buffer Zone (ZA) was declared from the 60 m depth line up to 12 nautical miles around The Bay Islands


Marine Park Primary Objectives

As part of the primary objective for the creation decree, conservation of the biodiversity through the active participation of the Central Government, Local Governments, Private Enterprise, Ethnic Groups and Non-Governmental Organizations with Conservation Objectives and Civil Society in general in the administration and management activities. The Roatan Marine Reserve and the Bay Islands Marine reserve aims to:

  1. Manage and protected areas in the Department of The Bay Islands.
  2. with the help of local governments, private companies, ethnic groups, non-Governmental agencies along with other sectors of an organized civil society who share in the conservation objectives.
  3. Promote the development and strict application of environmental and conservation standards for the major economic development activities with the greatest environmental impact in the Islands. 
  4. To promote and consolidate economic activities compatible with the conservation of nature. To establish a joint marketing of tri-national tourism routes sustainable, with the leading role of local people.
  5. The recovery and protection of biological diversity and ecological services of the Marine National Park.
  6. Promote the valuation of the environmental assets of the territories that comprise this area and establish mechanisms to compensate for ecological services provided by the AMP.
  7. Promote the equitable sharing of the benefits of conservation.
  8. Support existing local efforts in biodiversity conservation and quality environmental protection of the area. 


Management Plan

  • Fauna
  • Flora
  • Water

The Roatan Marine Park is considered under the Honduran standard as an area dedicated primarily to the conservation of the ecosystem and for recreation purposes. These efforts include water, flora, fauna and other organisms characteristics, physical and biological phenomena, historical and cultural to the coastal zone. The controlled use of some of its resources can be afforded, depending on the execution of the proposed Management Plan. 

This particular Management Plan is committed to:

  • Protect the ecological integrity of marine ecosystems
  • Generate a rational use of resources per the purposes of marine national parks
  • Provide the basis for carrying out activities of a scientific, educational and recreational focus for travelers who are environmentally and culturally friendly. It is noteworthy to mention that in this Park several areas have been established as physical spaces where a series of parameters for use are already instituted.


Main Conservation Zones


Although the legislation requires the municipalities of Roatán, Guanaja and Santos Guardiola where the PNMIB extends have not signed any co-management agreement with the date of completion of this plan, the municipality of Utila has done. 


Marine Area (ZEM)

  • Zona Especial Marina
  • Special Marine Area
  • Area = 52,408 ha

The Special Marine Area (ZEM) has as its objective to conserve portions or elements of the ecosystems single or fragile seafarers who fulfill protective and production functions, in an area Estimated at 52,408.70 ha. The Marine Area is divided into:

  • The Marine Special Protection Area (ZPEM): in this area activities can be carried out for the management of marine resources, based on coherent production techniques with the concept of sustainable development.
  • Restricted Area (ZR): in this area, because of its ecological importance, access will be restricted completely to human intervention, except for those activities related to scientific research and environmental education.
  • The Zone Restricted to Fisheries and Aquaculture (ZRPA): Access to this zone will be allowed for marine resources and restricted artisanal, industrial, and aquaculture parties.
  • The Economic Development Zone and Multiple Use Zone (ZDE-ZUM): This zone will be regulated for the use of marine resources and will be conducive to the growth and the economic development of communities. 


Buffer Zone (ZA

  • Zona de Amortiguamiento
  • Area = 594,4003 ha.

The buffer zone is the perimeter area of twelve nautical miles (22.2 km) contiguous to the outer line of the ZEM (60 m deep), in which diverse practices can be done, except for the industrial fishing. The ZA has 594,400.34 ha


Coastal Zone (ZC)

  • Zona Costera
  • Area = 47,152.49 ha.

This is the coastal strip adjacent to the interior of the ZEM that extends from the LMA up to 10 m within the island territory, in accordance with the first sub-zone of the Zone A defined in Article 7 of Executive Agreement No. 002-2004, General control of the Development of the Bay Islands. This area has an area of 43.45 ha. This partial National Park is under the scheme of co-management by part of the Bay Islands Conservation Association (BICA) and Roatan Marine Park, with whom there is a co-operation agreement and a memorandum of understanding respectively.

This Marine National Park has an estimated area of 47,152.49 ha. The area distribution, previously described, houses one of the most extensive coral formations of the Caribbean. And in particular, the Marine Park includes the southern end of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System (SAM), as well as areas with corals that harbor large and diverse numbers of vertebrates and marine invertebrates. 



Planning Stages

This peculiarity in biodiversity and the need to preserve the remnants genome in the face of the galloping development of the coastline provide evidence of the need to create the MPA and to institute a planning process that endows this area and its co-operators with a management plan.

The Management Plan has several stages of work:

  • Search for baseline information
  • Interview and systemize key factors
  • Survey field information
  • Technical workshop and discussion of conservation objectives
  • Approach to the management schemes
  • Elaboration of Management Plan
  • Baseline consultation
  • Management plan consultation
  • Presentation of final documents to the Honduran authorities.

The established stages mentioned above require the constant strengthening of a consulting team that does not only undertake the terms of the plan, but also can execute the program with relevance and according to the multiplicity standards.