First Look

2014 Coral Reef Assessment of Portland Bight Protected Area

Jamaica Environment Trust | 2014-06-10 00:00:00

Dr. Suzanne Palmer, a lecturer in coral reef ecology at the University of the West Indies, has received funding from the Waitt Foundation Rapid Ocean Conservation Grants Program to carry out an assessment of the coral reefs and marine nurseries within the Portland Bight Protected Area (PBPA).

Dr. Palmer and team are using the AGRRA (Atlantic Gulf Rapid Reef Assessment) method to assess the condition of coral reefs in the PBPA (corals, benthos, fish), together with the abundance and sizes of key fish species within associated marine nursery areas (seagrass beds and mangroves). The survey team comprises Dr. Suzanne Palmer, Sean Green, Loúreene Jones, Ivana Kenny, Achsah Mitchell, Kimani Kitson-Walters, Kayla Blake, Brandon Hay, Monique Curtis, and Yannique Ewers.

The proposed plan to establish a transhipment port within the largest protected area in Jamaica has created significant controversy nationally and internationally. Over the past 10 months there have been numerous reports, articles, and campaigns highlighting the ecological services and biodiversity of the Portland Bight Protected Area that would be at risk from the development. However, to date very little factual evidence has been presented on the marine ecosystem services of the PBPA. Dr. Palmer and her team adopt an evidence-based approach to answer the following research questions: What is the current condition of coral reefs within the PBPA? What is the abundance and average size of key fish species within the PBPA marine nursery areas? How healthy are contemporary coral reef ecosystems in the PBPA today and which ecosystem components are most sensitive to the proposed development?

Working with the Caribbean Coastal Area Management Foundation (C-CAM), Jamaica Environment Trust (JET), and Dr. Judith Lang (AGRRA Scientific Coordinator), Dr. Palmer and the team will disseminate results through a public pamphlet, a scientific report, community meetings, and a public conference. It is anticipated that the scientific assessment, photographs, and associated recommendations will raise public awareness and knowledge on the value of the marine ecosystem services of the PBPA.

Look out for updates and photographs from the project through Facebook



Posted By :Jamaica Trust

Company Name : Jamaica Environment Trust

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Company Address : 11 Waterloo Road Kingston 10 Jamaica

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