Cayos Cochinos, with its rich culture and pristine landscape, inspired Stephan Schmidheiny and a group of Honduran entrepreneurs to establish a Marine Protected Area (MPA) and a dedicated organization for its protection. In 1994, the Honduran Foundation for the Protection and Conservation of Cayos Cochinos, also known as the Honduran Coral Reef Fund (HCRF), was created after consultation with the Smithsonian Institute and collaboration with President Rafael Leonardo Callejas.
Over the years, Cayos Cochinos faced overexploitation and environmental degradation. However, through more than two decades of conservation efforts, signs of deterioration have been reduced, maintained, and even restored. The unique characteristics of Cayos Cochinos, including its distinctive pink boa constrictor species and magnificent coral reef topography, deserve special care and protection despite constant threats from overfishing and pollution.
The Foundation works in coordination with government authorities such as the Forest Conservation Institute (ICF) and the Honduran Armed Forces, particularly the Navy. It has not only enforced established measures but has also gained substantial support from prestigious international institutions including the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI), Avina and Marviva Foundations (Switzerland), Summitt Foundation (USA), The Nature Conservancy (TNC), World Fund for Nature (WWF), and RARE Conservation.
In 2004, with the collaboration of international organizations, national authorities, and local communities, the first Management Plan was prepared and approved, establishing rules and measures for the protected area. In 2009, the government further expanded the Buffer Zone of the Marine Natural Monument, increasing the protected area from 489 to 1,220 square meters. Industrial-scale fishing is prohibited in this expanded zone, while artisanal fishing is allowed for related communities.
Through collaborative efforts, Cayos Cochinos continues to receive the care and protection it deserves, ensuring the preservation of its unique ecosystem and cultural heritage.
Protecting the Caribbean jewel of the Mesoamerican reef
Achieve environmental sustainability and
human development in Cayos Cochinos and its surrounding areas
Community participation and commitment in decision-making processes and resource management within the area.
Community empowerment with regards to rights to access to fisheries resources.
Communities' adaptation and management actions against the effects of climate change.
Integration of the different interests and institutional, civil society, and entrepreneurial efforts and international cooperation towards sustainable development.
Establishing guidelines and orientation for the application of best practices for fishing and tourism so opportunities come up to improve the coast and islands' population socioeconomic situation.
Monitoring and development of scientific knowledge, as well as the integration of local knowledge and experience.
The achievement of a self-sustained financial, technical, and material management system.
The Cayos Cochinos Archipelago Natural Marine Monument is a key component of the Mesoamerican Reef System in the Honduran Caribbean, with abundant natural beauty and cultural richness that represents a legacy for sustainable development of present and future generations of the local communities and influence zones.
It's a model site for community participation in decision-making processes based on solid scientific knowledge, as well as locals' experience, with a high level of commitment to the implementation of research and management actions within the area, with a highly committed tourism sector, supported by the government, national and international cooperation, and universities for the implementation of conservation, sustainable tourism, artisanal fisheries, education, and scientific knowledge activities.