The Foundation launched the Partnership for Ecologically Sustainable Coastal Areas (PESCA) to balance the continued growth and development of the region, the long-term health and sustainability of the coastal zone and coral reef, and the needs of local stakeholders.
The Partnership for Ecologically Sustainable Coastal Areas implements replicable coastal management programs to protect the areas’ precious natural resources. PESCA is a public-private coalition represented by the Dominican Council of Fishing and Aquaculture (CODOPESCA), the Dominican Ministry of Environment, Club Med, the regional hotel association, the Juanillo Association of Fishermen and Artisans, the University of Miami, and Counterpart International, among others.
The Foundation’s Coastal Management program has established a culture of safety, security, and the marine environmental protection environment at the Puntacana Resort & Club. As part of this initiative, the Foundation has created guidelines for Clean & Green Boating principles, fishing regulations, rules for water sports and diving, and safety guidelines.
The complete Puntacana Nautical Guide, Map and Inshore Species Guide can be purchased at the Puntacana Marina office.
In 2007, the Foundation began a pilot experiment, using 20 “lobster casitas” as a way to increase local populations of Caribbean Spiny Lobsters and promote its sustainable harvest. Lobster casitas are simple artificial concrete structures that attract lobsters and juvenile fish. Local fishermen are encouraged to capture lobster from underneath the casitas thus reducing lobster exploitation on the reef. The fishermen are also educated to respect no-fishing zones and seasons, to respect set size limits and to return lobsters with eggs to the reef.
Since then, over 200 lobster casitas have been deployed in “No Fishing Zones” along the Punta Cana reef. Local fishermen participated in organized exchanges with fishermen from Mexico that have successfully implemented lobster casitas. The Ecological Foundation monitors the casitas to record lobster recruitment, providing data that proves casitas are also an excellent juvenile fish recruitment devise.
The introduction of the invasive Lionfish (has become a major concern for all Caribbean countries. Lionfish feed on native reef fish and have proliferated from Florida to as far south as Brazil. The Foundation launched its lionfish control program to protect the reef of Puntacana Resort & Club. The program seeks to minimize the number of lionfish on the reef and instead put them on the plate of local restaurants and the shelves of local souvenir shops.
Working with local fishermen, the Foundation has encouraged Puntacana Resort & Club to serve lionfish at its numerous restaurants. The Foundation also trained local women to prepare lionfish as exotic souvenirs sold in local stores. Since 2011, The Foundation has helped harvest over 1,500 lbs. of lionfish from local waters, while actively participating in national and international workshops about lionfish.