International Waters learning Exchange & Resource Network

Integrated Ecosystem Management of the Gulf of Fonseca

Encompassing approximately 3,200 km2 , the Gulf of Fonseca is a complex of marine and inter-tidal waters shared by El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua. The ecological significance of the Gulf of Fonseca estuary has been confirmed by several global and regional priority-setting initiatives. As one of only two tri-national maritime bodies in Central America, it requires sustained regional coordination to address trans-boundary concerns such as water pollution, habitat loss, excess sedimentation and over-exploitation of fisheries.

The objective of the Project is to foster the sustainable use of the Gulf of Fonseca’s marine and coastal resources and the integrated management of its ecosystems through the support of a trinational framework for cooperation. The specific objectives are to:

  • (i) establish and strengthen institutional arrangements for an effective and participatory management of the Gulf’s ecosystems;
  • (ii) foster integrated planning and regulatory management of coastal and marine resources in the Gulf of Fonseca;
  • (iii) establish decision-making systems for pollution and sediment monitoring, prevention, and control; and
  • (iv) support the promotion of livelihoods compatible with the sustainable use of the Gulf’s resources.

The project is expected to have the following results:

  • 1) - The regional capacity and institutional mechanisms for integrated management of the Gulf of Fonseca are expanded and strengthened. Building on existing conservation networks in the Gulf, the institutional capacity at the local, national and regional levels to implement, monitor and evaluate integrated ecosystem management policies and initiatives through joint efforts will be strengthened. The foundation for a permanent, self-sustaining, regional cooperation mechanism for environmental protection of the Gulf will be established.
  • 2) - The effectiveness of measures for the conservation and sustainable use of the Gulf’s coastal and marine resources is enhanced within a regional cooperation framework. Management of the Gulf as an estuarine system intrinsically linked to its tributary watersheds will be strengthened through the harmonization of policies and regulatory frameworks for preventing land-based and marine sources of pollution; conserving mangroves and promoting sustainable use of shared coastal fisheries stocks, improved scientific basis for decision-making, cooperative monitoring, and the establishment of mechanisms for conflict management over resource use.
  • 3) - Decision-making models for preventing / controlling pollution and sedimentation in operation: the Project will have the following main results:
    • (i) hydrometric and water quality (including suspended sediment) monitoring network in the tributary watersheds expanded, with data collection protocols harmonized in all three countries;
    • (ii) bathymetric information and monitoring of the atmosphere, the hydrodynamics and water quality information within the Gulf updated;
    • (iii) hydrological model of the tributary watersheds implemented and enabling the countries have a common understanding of the relative contribution of pollutants and sediments from distinct watersheds and micro-watersheds;
    • (iv) hydrodynamics and water quality model implemented and enabling countries to have a common understanding of the circulation of pollutants and sediments in the Gulf;
    • (v) pollution and sediment control regional strategy designed and executed, with national and local investments in wastewater treatment, clean production and watershed management aligned with agreed upon priorities.
  • 4) - Sustainable livelihoods promoted: the Project will have the following main results:
    • (i) alternative income sources for local communities based on sustainable use of natural resources and environmental services;
    • (ii) demonstration projects to facilitate the adoption and replication of sustainable production practices / alternative livelihoods;
    • (iii) enhanced knowledge in local communities on natural resource conservation and sustainable production methods;
    • (iv) awareness among the target industries of the competitive advantages of clean production and sound environmental management
    • (v) targeted sectors and industries adopt clean productive practices.

Summary Recommendation: The program manager, having reviewed the proposal and its annexes, observes the following:

  • (i) the project fits IW GEF4 Strategic Objective 1, and the Strategic Programs 1 (fisheries) and 2 (GPA);
  • (ii) all previous recommendations have been adequately addressed;
  • (iii) The budget reflects recent guidance on management cost, travels and other items;
  • (iv) the proposal presents a number of strong points, amongst them: - the co-financing ratio is high (1:4); - the M&E plan is based on a strong set of process and stress reduction indicators.

Based on the above, the program manager would recommend CEO approval of Work Program Entry.

Large Marine Ecosystem

Pacific Central-American Coastal (LME)

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Documents & Resources
General information
GEF ID 2688
Project type Full-Size Project
Status cancelled (Cancelled)
Start Date 28 May 2009
End Date 30 May 2013
GEF characteristic:
Focal Area International Waters
GEF Allocation to project USD 5,000,000
Total Cost of the project: USD 26,326,000
El Salvador , Honduras , Nicaragua , Regional

Inter-American Development Bank (IDB)

Project contacts
Michele LeMay Technical advisor in the identification