Fish of The Mesoamerican Barrier Reef
The Barrier Reef of Belize
Located off the coast of Belize in the Caribbean Sea, the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef is home to many ecologically and economically important marine species. Lobster and conch are the current principal fisheries products, and contribute most of the total value of exported seafood, estimated at over US$30 million in 2005. There is also a domestic fishery for shallow reef fish and a commercial fishery for groupers and snappers.
However, the main use of the Belize Barrier Reef is now tourism, which is the country's largest source of foreign exchange generating an estimated US$198 million in 2006 or nearly 18% of GDP. The Belize Barrier Reef has long been regarded by many divers as the ultimate diving destination with hundreds of divers visiting the reef each year to experience its wonders.
Home to more species than any other marine ecosystem the barrier reefs are second only to the lush tropical rain forests on the biodiversity scale. Although reef diversity is much lower in the Caribbean than in the Indo-Pacific, Belize has a particularly high species diversity, with about 65 coral species and over 300 fish species, compared with just over 70 coral species and about 520 fish species in the Caribbean as a whole.