September 22, 2020

Cayman Island resource managers learn how to manage threats to coral reefs


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Resource managers are faced with environmental changes that threaten the health and vitality of coral reef ecosystems as a result of expanding coastal development, tourism and new industries in many Caribbean nations. To assist coral reef resource managers in their mitigation and conservation efforts, NCCOS, through the Coral Disease and Health Consortium with funding support from the NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program, hosted a training workshop in the U.S. Virgin Islands on Practical Methods for Conducting Threat Assessments for Reef Managers, June 4-7.

Participants from Bahamas, Aruba, Belize, Cayman Islands, Antigua & Barbuda, St. Eustatius, Honduras, British Virgin Islands, Grenada and the U.S. National Park Service received instruction and advice on risk assessment methods and new scientific methods and tools to help them prioritize potential impacts from human activities, and generate data to justify and support management actions especially when availability of funds, expertise, or time may be a limiting factor.

Workshop attendees also gained experience testing the toxic effects of sediment pore waters on sea urchin development, a first step in the determination of the toxic biological characteristics of a particular site as well as the associated degree of toxicity — a test easily transferable to different geographic locations. Data from these and similar tests can be modeled for environmental risk evaluation purposes and establishing screening and action options. Armed with this information, managers can then develop mitigation strategies to reduce the impact of specific human activities and pollutants.

Mitigation actions can take on many different forms ranging from educational campaigns, rotating usage of a reef system, implementing innovative green technologies for waste management to regulatory actions.

Haereticus Environmental Laboratory provided in-kind support by teaching the classroom and laboratory courses at the University of the Virgin Islands in St. Thomas. Field activities and environmental sample collections were conducted at Hawksnest Bay, St. John.

NCCOS is the National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science and provides research, scientific information and tools to help balance the Nation’s ecological, social and economic goals.  NCCOS has partnerships with local and national coastal managers that is essential in providing science and services to benefit communities and the Nation. The research and tools they provide are central to addressing coastal issues raised in legislation and NOAA’s priorities.  NCCOS helps coastal communities protect themselves from harmful algae, contamination of their water and the implications of a changing climate.  They also provide the research necessary for communities to develop effective and sustainable management of their resources.

NOAA is the National Oceanic and Atmosphere Administration (United States Department of Commerce) and is an agency that enriches life through science. It’s reach goes from the surface of the sun to the depths of the ocean floor as they work to keep citizens informed of the changing environment around them.

From daily weather forecasts, severe storm warnings and climate monitoring to fisheries management, coastal restoration and supporting marine commerce, NOAA’s products and services support economic vitality and affect more than one-third of America’s gross domestic product. NOAA’s dedicated scientists use cutting-edge research and high-tech instrumentation to provide citizens, planners, emergency managers and other decision makers with reliable information they need when they need it.

NOAA’s roots date back to 1807, when the Nation’s first scientific agency, the Survey of the Coast, was established. Since then, NOAA has evolved to meet the needs of a changing country. NOAA maintains a presence in every state and has emerged as an international leader on scientific and environmental matters.


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