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A coral reef refuge

Anchored by the tourism mecca of Roatan, the Bay Islands of Honduras make up the southernmost section of the world's second largest barrier reef. While some visitors come for the islands' palm trees and soft coral sand, most are drawn by the astonishing variety of marine life accessible for anyone with a face mask and a snorkle.

Although the world's coral reefs are disappearing at an alarming rate, the marine environment around the Bay Islands remains largely pristine. And the government is determined to keep it that way. In 1993 it created the Development Commission for the Bay Islands, and a year later, the IDB approved a project to strengthen the ability of the local people to manage their resources and provide them with better environmental sanitation services.

Since then, with the support of the environmental management program, the government has designated the islands as a protected area and has established a permanent environmental unit on Roatán staffed with government and municipal officials who have received legal, technical and administrative training. Future activities will include water supply, sewer and solid waste systems, a property census and registry, and environmental education.

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