Turneffe Atoll is a coastal network of mangrove forests, lagoons, creeks, sea grass beds and corals reefs that are of national and regional significance. These ecosystems support a vast variety of flora and fauna — including us.

Of particular importance are the marine and coastal systems which provide a number of benefits for humans – called ecosystem services. Coral reefs, for example, provide food in the form of fish, and protect shorelines from high intensity waves which helps to form beaches that support tourism. In order for these ecosystems to continue to provide these services, we have to protect them from any actions that could cause them harm. It is for this reason that the entire Atoll of Turneffe has been designated a marine reserve.


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The Turneffe Atoll Sustainability Association (TASA) was formed to manage and protect the entire 1,316.9 km of the Turneffe Atoll, as well as the surrounding waters.

At TASA, we take the conservation of our natural resources very seriously. Working to find a perfect balance that will allow us live hand in hand in Nature, being sustained by her and protecting her at the same time.

On Turneffe, there are no towns, only 3 high end resorts, 1 dive resort, the University of Belize’s Calabash Caye field station, 3 TASA Ranger outposts, a Coast Guard base, 2 lighthouses and around 25 semi-permanent fishing camps — which fishers use as temporary bases before returning to their communities.

The Reserve is organized into different zones, within which different activities are allowed (see section below). These are all monitored by TASA rangers to ensure compliance.

With effective management that incorporates all Turneffe communities in a participatory fashion, we’ve already started to see improvements in ecosystem health.


Within the Reserve, areas are dedicated to different levels of protection:

  • General Use Zone: a variety of actions are allowed here but they are all low impact. All fishers require valid licenses and only managed fishing is permitted. Fishing gear is restricted to ensure that the reefs are not damaged and that smaller fish can escape.
  • Conservation Zone: no fishing is allowed here (except for catch and release fly fishing). Diving and snorkeling are allowed, but only once the rules of the Reserve have been explained.
  • Preservation Zones: these are the most restrictive areas. No fishing, diving snorkeling or motor boat activity is allowed.
  • Special Management Zones: these areas may be subject to specific restrictions to protect their unique resources. Such as banning the harvesting of conches.


There are around 30 species of local and/or international relevance, some of which are listed as threatened, endangered or vulnerable under IUCN.
These include:


  • Hawksbill  – Critically Endangered
  • Leatherback  – Critically Endangered
  • Loggerhead – Endangered 
  • Green – Endangered


  • Staghorn – Critically Endangered
  • Elkhorn – Critically Endangered
  • Pillar – Endangered


  • Goliath Grouper – Critically Endangered
  • Queen triggerfish – Vulnerable
  • Hogfish – Vulnerable
  • Rainbow parrotfish
  • Stoplight parrotfish
  • Ocean surgeonfish
  • Blue tang
  • French Angelfish
  • Nurse shark
  • Whaleshark
  • Spotted Eagleray


  • West Indian manatee – Vulnerable
  • Spinner dolphin
  • Bottlenose dolphin