Mesoamerican Reef Story Grantees to Investigate Threats Facing Marine Ecosystems

Internews’ Earth Journalism Network (EJN) recently awarded small grants to 10 reporters in Mexico and Central America to report on a range of issues related to the health of the Mesoamerican Reef (MAR), a vital reef system that stretches across the coasts of Mexico, Belize, Guatemala and Honduras.

Part of our Mesoamerican Reef Reporting Project, these grants will allow the selected reporters to look more in-depth at pressing issues facing the reef. They follow two workshops EJN hosted in Belize and Mexico to help reporters in those countries, Honduras and Guatemala better understand the threats posed to the MAR by pollution, overfishing, unregulated development, tourism, disease and the effects of climate change.

A man addresses a group of people standing in a circle on a beach.
Belize workshop:Journalists from Belize gathered at Goff’s Caye to interview Valdemar Andrade, executive director of the Turneffe Atoll Sustainability Association.  He explained the importance of mangroves as natural coastal barriers and their connection with coral reefs.

The stories are aimed at improving public awareness and national, regional, and international responses to marine management. They’ll also highlight ways decision-makers and communities can address environmental challenges and ensure the health of the reef system.

The selected story proposals cover a range of issues, from sustainable conch harvesting to protections for fish spawning grounds to the impacts on the reef from improper solid waste disposal, tourism, coral bleaching and the growth of algae blooms caused by toxic runoff. A grantee from Guatemala will explore the need for a regional strategy for reef management and mangrove preservation.

The 10 journalists – from Belize, Mexico, Honduras and Guatemala – are as follows:


  1. Deseree Cain-Arzu,
  2. Courtney Weatherburne and
  3. Dion Vansen


  1. Manuel Alejandro Castro Flores,
  2. Rodolfo Juárez and
  3. Adriana Varillas  


  1. Josué Quintana


  1. Oswaldo Hernández,
  2. Francelia Solano and
  3. Karla Patricia González

Funding for these grants comes primarily from the Summit Foundation, and the Mesoamerican Reef Fund (MAR Fund) has made a small donation to support to two of the three Guatemalan journalists.

Grantees will publish their stories in the coming months. Keep an eye on the EJN website to read their finished products.

(Banner photo: At  Arrecifes de Cozumel National Park in Mexico, journalists had the opportunity to snorkel and see firsthand the beauty of the Mesoamerican Reef.)