The purpose of this project was to collect, integrate and map available information on the features of essential fish habitats in protected and non-protected marine areas around the islands of Puerto Rico. The information obtained will help: 1) describe and select habitats for monitoring impacts of fishing and non-fishing activities, and 2) develop management recommendations for conservation of important marine habitats.
Why We Care
The seafloor of Puerto Rico, which supports a diverse and robust coral reef ecosystem, is being severely impacted by recreational activities, coastal development, boat groundings and more. One of the mandates stipulated by the Coral Reef Conservation Act (Presidential Executive Order #13089) is to “preserve and protect the biodiversity, health, heritage, and social and economic value of U.S. coral reef ecosystems and marine environment.” In order to fulfill this mandate, the NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service Southeast Regional Office, the Caribbean Fishery Management Council (CFMC), the Puerto Rico Department of Natural and Environmental Resources (DNER), and the Puerto Rico Local Action Strategy Overfishing Group needed information on the distribution and availability of essential fish habitats occurring in protected and non-protected marine areas around the islands of Puerto Rico.
These local resource managers also needed information on:
- the geographic distribution of sea floor habitat types,
- Essential Fish Habitat (EFH) requirements, and
- fishing and non-fishing impacts to marine resources to help prioritize areas for conservation.
What We Did
We collected available information on the characteristics of essential fish habitats in protected and non-protected marine areas around Puerto. First, we met with staff from the collaborating agencies to determine the number and types of existing Essential Fish Habitat (EFH) paper maps and the extent (in terms of years and location) of historical information to be compiled. Second, we produced a Geographic Information System (GIS) by digitizing and georeferencing selected paper maps that described the geologic features of the sea floor around Puerto Rico. Third, we developed an annotated bibliography consisting of 25 studies done by NCCOS to characterize the ecology and biogeography of Puerto Rico and its dependencies.
Benefits of our Work
The georeferenced imagery and annotated bibliography are being used by the Caribbean Fisheries Management Council and the NFMS Caribbean Field Office to:
- help identify sea floor habitat types and Essential Fish Habitat requirements; and
- address fishing and non-fishing impacts to marine resources.