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Dominican Republic

Boca Chica


Conservation benefit: Protection of a 13-acre marine area including mangroves, seagrass, and coral reef for 15 years

Community benefit: Support of new Fishermen’s Ecotourism Co-op, including training and equipment

Date Approved: 06.2020


This project supports a local conservation-based tourism initiative.


This project protects mangroves, which trap more CO2 than any other kind of forest and as a result, slow global warming.


This project protects ocean ecosystems, making coastal communities more economically and physically secure in the face of climate change.


This project protects seagrass, which traps more CO2 than any other marine ecosystem, slowing global warming.

The Boca Chica Coral Reef Lagoon includes various ecosystems of great fragility, including coral reef, seagrass meadows, mangroves, sand and rubble flats, and beaches. The area lies within the Andrés Boca Chica Municipality (population 70,000-plus), a sprawling urban, commercial, industrial, and tourist area. Less than 30 minutes from the capital city, it is known as Santo Domingo’s beach.

On paper, the lagoon environment has legal protection. But overfishing has damaged the lagoon’s environment and local people’s quality of life. Trampling by people threatens the coral. The seagrass beds, which make up a significant portion of the lagoon, are generally in very good condition, but urgently need protection and management.

Working with our nonprofit partner Fundación Verde Profundo (FVP), this project will further both socioeconomic equity and environmental stewardship.

The first step is to reduce fishing pressure, while ensuring that fishers can earn a living. The fishers are enthusiastic about conservation and ecotourism, and plan to form a Fishermen’s Ecotourism Co-op (FECOP). The co-op will help restore the marine ecosystem, with an emphasis on cultivating and planting 1,000 mangrove seedlings. FVP has already planted 1,500 mangroves in the project site, with a survival rate of 82 percent. They are also protecting naturally occurring mangroves on the lagoon’s reef barrier and Los Pinos Island. Fishermen will patrol the area and enforce restrictions.

The group will also develop ecotourism. Fishers will learn how to be certified tourist guides, and will also get training in small business practices, rescue and first aid, and marine area enforcement. The Seacology grant will fund stand-up paddleboards, kayaks, snorkel and safety equipment; first aid kits; tour operator insurance; tourism permits; promotional consultation and materials; an e-marketing platform; and office equipment and supplies.

Project Updates

June 2021

Two fishermen are providing stand-up paddleboard (SUP) and kayak experiences, such as paddling at sunrise and exploring mangroves at La Matica Island. The tours include information about mangroves, seagrass, and coral, and the overall project. Youth in the fishers co-op are very excited about getting SUPs, canoes, pedal boats, a sailboat, and masks and fins for snorkeling. An experienced person is now managing rentals and excursions, and co-op members will get business management training soon. There are plans to buy locally built 12-foot plywood and fiberglass pirogues, which will be very competitively priced compared to imported canoes. The fishermen will help build the canoes.

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January 2021

Project partner NGO Fundación Verde Profundo (FVP) has focused on connecting with organizations that offer training for co-op development. Because of COVID-19 restrictions, this has not been easy. Nevertheless, FVP has held 11 meetings with the fishermen’s association, sharing documents and videos to help them understand the nature and goals of a co-op. FVP is also receiving guidance from the Dominican Council of Fisheries and Aquaculture. National mangrove expert Pedro Martinez gave excellent feedback to FVP and helped to identify an area suitable for a mangrove nursery at La Matica Mangrove Island. Fishermen’s association members participated in a mangrove clean-up with young volunteers.

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