Puerto Rico’s coral reefs play an important cultural and commercial role in the island’s economy, but are under constant pressure from man-made and natural stressors.
In response, NCCOS researchers recently began collecting data on Puerto Rico’s reefs that can help local, natural resource managers address coral reef management concerns. Last month, NCCOS scientists, in conjunction with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and HJR Reefscaping, conducted 24 fish and coral surveys on the southwestern insular shelf of Puerto Rico.
These surveys of shallow-water coral reefs (less than 100 feet deep) represent the kick-off of the National Coral Reef Monitoring Program’s “Puerto Rico phase.” This program collects standardized biological, physical, and socioeconomic monitoring data throughout all U.S. coral reef jurisdictions.
NCCOS staff also met with federal, territorial, and academic partners to plan conservation projects, such as the proposed Northeast Reserve – a comprehensive land and marine protected area in northeast Puerto Rico.