About Glover’s Reef Marine Reserve

Aerial of GLover's Reef Atoll

The approximately 86,653 acre Glover’s Reef Marine Reserve was established as a protected area in 1993 (SI 38 of 1993) under the Fisheries Act (Ch. 210) (see www.belizelaw.org; chapter 210 and 210s), and encompasses the marine area of the Atoll, managed under the Fisheries Department of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries. It is considered one of the highest priority areas in the Mesoamerican Caribbean Reef system, providing recruitment, nursery, feeding and dwelling areas for lobster, conch and finfish, and providing unique fish habitat in the interior lagoon (WWF, 2002). It is an important component of not only Belize’s national marine protected areas system, but also at a regional and international level, being designated by UNESCO in 1996 as one of seven protected areas that together form the Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System – World Heritage Site.

Glover's Reef Marine Reserve on Middle Caye
The Glover’s Reef Marine Reserve Statutory Instrument was updated in 2001 (SI 137 of 2001), and currently designates four different management zones: the General Use Zone, a Conservation Zone, a Wilderness Zone and a Seasonal Closure Zone, with each zone having regulations defining activities that can and can’t be done. The protected area is considered to be within IUCN category IV – a Habitat/Species Management Area, with active management targeted at conservation through management intervention (IUCN, 1994).

Management Goals

Goal I:

To provide protection for the physical and biological resources of Glover’s Reef, in order to maintain and sustain these resources for the benefit of current and future generations.


  • To preserve the outstanding beauty, uniqueness and naturalness of the atoll.
  • To regulate use of the area to ensure the sustainability of its resources, resilience of its ecosystems, and maintenance of ecological processes.
  • To provide protected habitats for commercially important species in order to enhance recruitment and replenishment, thus achieving sustainable yields, and to demonstrate these benefits to fishermen.
  • To protect critical habitats for endangered species.
  • To manage the area based on sound scientific information, and based on adaptive management principles.

Goal II:
Underwater View of Marine Life

To increase awareness and understanding of the natural resource of Glover’s Reef through education and research.


  • To encourage use of the atoll for applied scientific research by the national and international scientific community, and to feed the results of research into the marine reserve’s management-decision process.
  • To foster use of the atoll as a study center by both local and international students.
  • To foster awareness of the importance of the marine environment, and the marine reserve specifically, through educational and interpretive programmes to encourage use of the reserve as a training center in marine resources and MPA management, and for demonstrating the benefits of MPAs.

Goal III:
To provide a resource for recreation and tourism.


  • To provide undisturbed areas for tourism and recreation in a controlled and well-informed manner.
  • To enhance the social and economic benefits of the area by promoting uses compatible with conservation and sustainable development principles.