DECR Seeks To Build TCI’s Capacity In Global Standards For Coral Reef Monitoring



Photo shows a healthy coral on the left and a bleached one on the right.

Coral reefs are vibrant ecosystems that face a very uncertain future under current climate predictions.


The Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network’s report, Status of the Coral Reefs of the World: 2020, highlighted an alarming decline in coral cover globally. Coral bleaching and disease have led to mass coral mortality events, and this is only predicted to worsen with the increasing effects of climate change and associated ocean acidification.


Declining coral cover results in a devastating loss of both biodiversity and the high value services provided by reefs such as storm surge protection, food security and tourism.


To combat this urgent threat, the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) has developed a programme of work to support environmental resilience in the United Kingdom Overseas Territories (UKOTs) under the UK Government’s Conflict Sustainability and Security Fund (CSSF).


As part of this programme, JNCC is working with the six Caribbean UK Overseas Territories (UKOTs), namely Anguilla, Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands (BVI), the Cayman Islands, Montserrat, and the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI), to implement priority elements from their coral reef action plans to support coral reef conservation and restoration.


The project covers four overarching themes of reef conversation: coral reef monitoring, outreach and education, reduction of pressures, and coral disease management.

A training workshop held at the Department of Environment and Coastal Resources (DECR), between 7th and 11th March, in conjunction with the Turks and Caicos Islands Government (TCIG) focused on training 10 environmental professionals from governmental and private sectors in the Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network methods for surveying coral reefs (www.gcrmn.net).


Dr. Stuart Wynne of C3 International Ltd, a marine ecologist with over 15 years global experience, including several years working in Anguilla as the Deputy Director of Fisheries Management, led the group in three days of theoretical training on identification and monitoring of fish, corals, algae and other ocean critters. Transferral of knowledge between experienced surveyors from DECR and those new to both the theory and practice will build national capacity for monitoring the status of our coral reefs.


Scuba diving surveys, facilitated by Aqua TCI, also aided participants in applying their new knowledge into practice, collecting ‘real time’ data and discussing its analysis and application in management decision-making.


The long-term vision is to increase the size and capability of the national coral reef monitoring team in collecting and analysing scientific data to inform local management actions; a prerequisite for the conservation of TCI’s incredible marine biodiversity in the face of increasing threats from human and climate-induced changes.


Furthermore, TCI will be increasing its contribution of vital data to international publications on Caribbean and global coral reef health.

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