Scientists Collaborate on Coral Reef Ecosystem Characterization and Monitoring Mission to Enhance Management and Assess Efficacy of Marine Protected Areas
Scientists from NOAA’s National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science, in collaboration with biologists from the National Park Service (NPS) and with support from NOAA’s Coral Reef Conservation Program, successfully completed their bi-annual monitoring and characterization mission in and around the waters of Buck Island Reef National Monument (BIRNM), St. Croix, USVI, March 9th – 21st. Data on fish and invertebrate populations and benthic composition were collected at one hundred and twenty two locations, including sites in the northern part of the East End Marine Park (EEMP). The results of this long-term monitoring study will help BIRNM and EEMP establish the knowledge base necessary for enacting place-based management decisions and assessing the efficacy of USVI Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). As on all NOAA diving missions, safety remains paramount to data collection, and the mission was completed safely and incident-free. For more information, visit http://www.ccma.nos.noaa.gov/ecosystems/coralreef/reef_fish/ .
Significance: The results of this long-term monitoring study directly support local managers in assessing the efficacy of USVI Marine Protected Areas (MPAs).