Spirit of Big Five

Southern Environmental Association (SEA)

Southern Environmental Association (SEA)

Formerly Friends of Nature-Belize, SEA is a community conservation organization working to protect critically important marine protected areas of the Belize Barrier Reef, the largest barrier reef in the Western Hemisphere. The Spirit of Big Five Foundation has joined other international groups, including Conservation International, The Nature Conservancy, and World Wildlife Fund, to help SEA in these efforts. SEA has been active since 1996, and has worked to protect and manage two critically important marine protected areas in the Belize Barrier Reef Complex: Laughing Bird Caye National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the Gladden Spit and Silk Cayes Marine Reserve, a high biodiversity hotspot.  In addition, through a co-management agreement with Belize’s Ministry of Fisheries, SEA is expecting to oversee management of the Sapodilla Cayes Marine Reserve, another UNESCO site, in the near future.

The 150-mile-long Belize Barrier reef supports a large diversity of marine life and habitats, including hundreds of species of fish, and relatively pristine swaths of mangroves, seagrass, atolls, and barrier, patch, and fringing coral reefs. The reef ecosystem is under tremendous threat from indiscriminate and illegal fishing as well as land-based pollution, climate change, oil
exploration, shipping, and unregulated coastal development.

What began as a grass roots organization in five local communities, SEA is now recognized as a conservation leader in the management of marine protected areas in Belize.

SEA plays several key roles in protecting these fragile environments:

  • enforcing laws and regulations;
  • providing a management presence within and beyond park boundaries;
  • expanding and establishing no-take zones;
  • conducting scientific monitoring and research;
  • fostering community participation in ecotourism as an economic alternative to reliance on commercial fishing;
  • strengthening stakeholder local community groups;
  • implementing adaptive marine conservation management;
  • developing a long-term sustainability plan to help protect the second largest barrier reef on Earth.

The Spirit of Big Five Foundation grant goes directly to support SEA's scientific monitoring and management of the Gladden Spit and Silk Cayes Marine Reserve. The funds support ranger patrols to prevent illegal poaching within the marine protected area, scientific data collection used to carry out environmental impact assessments from unregulated coastal development, and local community educational outreach, including funding marine conservation awareness and teaching about the environment in collaboration with local elementary schools.

Latest Project Updates


Preserving a Way of Life

Through its community education outreach program SEA has been carrying out projects in all the schools in the villages. SEA
Southern Environmental Association (SEA) is accepting donations

View All Growing Projects
Website by THAT Agency, a Web Design Firm