Natural Resources Management

Caribbean Coral Reef Ecosystems Assessment and Monitoring

Caribbean Coral Reef Ecosystems Assessment and Monitoring

CSS supports NOAA's Coral Reef Conservation Program, in collaboration with the National Centers for Coastal Ocean Sciences, Center for Coastal Monitoring and Assessment, which annually assesses and monitors the condition of coral reef ecosystems in the U.S. Caribbean. The Caribbean Coral Reef Ecosystems Assessment and Monitoring (CREMP) evaluates the status and trends of marine resources, including reef fishes, benthic communities (algae, corals, other sessile invertebrates, conch, lobster, and urchins), and pollutants in St. Thomas, St. Croix, and St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands; southwestern Puerto Rico; and Vieques. CSS contributes to studies that spatially characterize, monitor, and predict the distribution, abundance, and size of reef fishes and benthic organisms. The information collected in the annual monitoring missions establishes the knowledge base necessary for enacting management decisions in a spatial setting. Ongoing regular monitoring of these areas helps NOAA detect changes in ecosystem metrics following adaptive management or restoration activities. In addition, identifying the potential locations of "hot spots" of species abundance, richness, and diversity in the seascape will provide answers to questions about the effectiveness of alternative marine zoning strategies, such as the best placement of no fishing, anchoring, or recreational areas to maximize long-term sustainable use and conservation of living resources. Tangible outcomes and outputs from CSS's work include: