Volume 58

Increasing Training and Technique Exchange for Siting MPAs in Remote Coral Reef Environments in the Caribbean

Prada, M.
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Date: November, 2005

Pages: 351-356

Event: Proceedings of the Fifty Eighth Annual Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries Institute

City: San Andres

Country: Colombia


Through the NOAA International Coral Reef Conservation Program it was possible to congregate fifteen people associated with the management of remote coral reef environments which have been declared or are in the process of becoming marine protected areas (MPAs). The first training session was held at the Chinchorro Bank field station, Mexico during two weeks in April, 2005. The training focused on: a) how to collect and interpret fine scale remote sensing imagery from side scan sonar systems in order to generate multi-scale habitat mapping on remote coral reef areas; b) the use of existing coarse scale remote sensing imagery from passive sensors (satellite imagery and aerial photographs); c) the combination of technologies and information on several scales required for increase capacity building in GIS techniques and applications; d) habitat concepts based on biological and ecological criteria, incorporating them into MPA management and designation; and e) increase exchange of experience in planning field work at distant oceanic areas looking at international/national cooperative alternatives by establishing working networks. As a result of this course a benthic map of coral reef habitats (< 25 m depth) within the recreational diving zone of the Banco Chinchorro Biosphere Reserve was generated. The map will be use to update this MPA’s management plan and to illustrate the benefits of a functional network. The success of the course was a result of sharing experiences, expertise and resources from different Caribbean remote MPA practitioners, including those governmental agencies and private enterprises which provided the sonar equipment and the educational materials. The development of this course offers a new model for acquiring technical information needed for MPA management otherwise too expensive to be obtained.

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