There are many protected marine reserves around the world. Most of them are government run, with government issued patrols and mandatory fees to enter the reserves. The quality of these reserves varies depending on who is in charge of operations. We’ve seen some reserves that only care whether you’ve paid the fees, yet don’t bother patrolling or enforcing laws, and we’ve seen some reserves that do a great job of following through on their intended purpose.
The Roatan Marine Park is different from many other marine reserves in that it is an NGO and non-profit organization. It started as a grassroots movement out of Sandy Bay and has since expanded to a well respected and recognized organization that co-manages the National Marine Park of the Bay Islands with twelve other organizations. The Roatan Marine Park is not run by the government, and marine park fees are optional (though highly encouraged), not mandatory (seriously, though, you should support the park). The difference between many protected marine reserves and the Roatan Marine Park is that the park is not a nameless, faceless organization. Everyone on the island knows each and every staff member of the Roatan Marine Park, and this makes them a very unique organization. There are five directors at the Roatan Marine Park, each specializing in different aspects of keeping the organization running and protecting the island. But the two directors most visitors to Roatan will encounter, interact with, or benefit from the work of are Giacomo Palavinci and Nicholas Christian Bach.