On the forefront of technological reef research the country of Belize has assigned drones to combat illegal fishing throughout marine protected areas, in what may be the first use of drones for conservation. “Belize has been a leader in the establishment of marine protected areas, including the world-famous Glover’s Reef Marine Reserve, but fishing regulations are difficult to enforce on the open sea,” said Julio Maaz, Communities Fisheries Coordinator for WCS’s Marine Program in Belize. “Drones offer a means of improving the rate of detection of illegal activities at a fraction of the cost required for patrol vessels.” The unmanned aerial drones will begin a new monitoring program that is a partnership between the Wildlife Conservation Society who provided the technical expertise, and the Belize Fisheries Department. “This exciting new enforcement tool will help the government and local communities protect their most valuable assets — the fisheries and coral reefs of Belize’s coastal waters,” said Dr. Caleb McClennen, Executive Director of WCS Marine Conservation. “The world’s oceans are in dire need of low cost innovations for improving the cost efficiency and effectiveness of enforcement efforts. This represents an exciting pilot program for Belize, the wider Caribbean, and nearshore marine parks and fisheries around the world.” Read more here!