Virgin Islands Coral Reef National Monument: Geopolitical Boundaries Give Way in Light of Scientific Information
Efforts are now underway to increase the percentage of complex reef habitat protected by the Virgin Islands Coral Reef National Monument based on long-term studies of the area by the National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science.
When the monument was established in 2001, its boundaries were based largely on territorial ownership, and did not take into consideration the area’s ecological characteristics. Based on surveys from 2002-2007, scientists determined that areas outside the monument had significantly more hard corals; greater habitat complexity; and greater richness, abundance, and biomass of reef fishes than certain areas within monument boundaries.
These findings were published in a paper in the Proceedings of the 11th International Coral Reef Symposium.