Workshop Identifies Information Gaps and Priorities for Pacific Coral Reef Mapping and Monitoring

Acoustic mapping surveys provided detailed information on the bathymetry of Pagan Island in the northern Mariana Archipelago.

NOAA's Coral Reef Conservation Program (CRCP) is reviewing long-term plans for monitoring and mapping of Pacific coral reefs, with the purpose of strengthening the link between science and management goals for coral reef ecosystems. The research activities are vital components of the Coral Reef Ecosystem Integrated Observing System (CREIOS). As a first step in the strategic planning, the CRCP brought together scientists and coral reef ecosystem managers from various regions for a facilitated workshop during November 18-20, in Honolulu, Hawaii. The group identified science information gaps and priority information needs of managers.

The R/V AHI (Acoustic Habitat Investigator) is one of the NOAA research vessels used to collect bathymetric data during coral reef mapping surveys.

The workshop objectives were to identify mapping and monitoring data needs for management at the local and jurisdictional levels, identify NOAA products and potential new solutions that meet the management needs, and solicit advice from managers and scientists on NOAA's national program for coral reef ecosystem monitoring. More than 25 people from local marine conservation agencies in Hawaii, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and American Samoa participated, along with staff of the NOAA Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center, Papahānamokuākea Marine National Monument, the Western Pacific Fishery Management Council, and the U.S. Department of the Interior.

The workshop was successful in determining priority information needs for managers, and highlighted important issues of concern for the various jurisdictions, including the need for increased technical capacity, improved dissemination of information and data, and better communication of scientific information to general audiences. The outcomes from the meeting will inform strategic long-term funding decisions with regard to the CRCP's monitoring and mapping activities and help ensure that they are cost-effective, aligned with management needs, and allow for the timely delivery of required products and services to all users, subject to funding constraints.

For more information contact: Rusty Brainard