The annual meeting of the Florida Shore and Beach Preservation Association (FSBPA) was held at the Tradewinds Hotel (St. Petersburg Beach, Florida). The conference started during the afternoon of February 18th and ended Friday morning, February 20th, 2009. The meeting brought together professionals specializing in ocean engineering, coastal modeling, environmental evaluation, mitigation, and rehabilitation. A total of 42 presentations were made at the conference. Eighteen (18) of these talks focused on coastal structure design and engineering, of which eleven (11) dealt with the evaluation of problem coastal areas and seven (7) were mainly related to the use and reliability of the current group of numerical models to describe coastal processes. The remaining six (6) presentations focused on habitat rehabilitation and mitigating the environmental effects of development projects.
Highlighting the conference, with respect to potential application in the Caribbean, were several presentations that dealt with coral rehabilitation and evaluation of biological stress. This conference and the pre-conference workshop on the US Army Corps of Engineers Coastal Modeling System provided an opportunity to canvass the coastal engineering community with respect to critical research areas in the Caribbean. The questionnaire that we used as a scoping tool is a modification of the four questions that we presented at our GCFI scoping session last November. We based our survey questions on the suggestions for research areas gleaned from an earlier e-mail survey that we conducted in 2006. Of the approximately 150 people attending the conference and workshop, 30 participants were found with experience in the Caribbean and asked to respond to our written survey. Six (6) submitted their response at the conference and an approximately equal number promised to send a response by fax or email. The results are being added to a database for analysis and new results are being included as we receive them.
Contributed by K. Grove
Photo: Beach shoreline at Bahia Honda, Florida Keys (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Florida)
Florida Beach and Shore Preservation Association – http://www.fsbpa.com/
On June 23-24, 2009, the Caribbean Fisheries Management Council (CFMC) met to discuss annual catch limits (ACLs) and accountability measures (AMs) for stocks determined to be subject to overfishing.
The council meeting was attended by regular members and additional stakeholders from non-governmental organizations (NGOs), territory institutions for natural resource management, federal agencies, and commercial fishermen.
Commercial fishers having the greatest at stake were the most vocal and critical of the methods used to establish limits for ACLs. One of the main arguments questioning the validity of catch limits was the manner in which they are reported. Instead of reporting by species, catches are more often reported as groups of fish type. An example is the naming of Groupers and Snappers instead of Red Hind or Nassau Groupers. The true state of the fishery is difficult to determine when data on species is missing. This particular issue created some heated discussion at the meeting.
The Puerto Rico-Sea Grant Caribbean Regional Assessment (CRA) project used this meeting to scope fishers and managers from the US Virgin Islands. However, because of the discussions, it was difficult to obtain enough time to interview the attendees. Their main focus was on the CFMC topics. On the other hand, they promised to respond to our questionnaire by email and for future consultations.
Kurt Grove – Sea Grant Puerto Rico, Research Coordinator
We attended the Caribbean Coral Reef Institute (CCRI) End of the International Year of the Reef Symposium at the University of Puerto Rico – Botanical Garden, Río Piedras on Dec 3, 2008.
The official naming of 2008 as the “International Year of the Coral Reef (IYOR)” designated by the International Coral Reef Initiative (ICRI) has led a conscious effort in understanding the status of coral reefs. In accordance with ICRI, CCRI, a NOAA-funded organization dedicated to addressing priorities in short- and long-term management of coral reef ecosystems in the Caribbean through research-based studies, conducted a symposium with the latest data pertaining to the present condition of coral reefs and the threats that they are currently facing. Local scientists and resource managers discussed a range of topics including the impacts of terrestrial activities on coral reefs, the need for important fish species for a healthy reef community, the use of acoustics in the detection of Red Hind spawning aggregation sites, among others.
Sadly, the current status of corals is not one to celebrate. The occurrence of coral diseases has been increasing for the past 10 years and is believed to be correlated with the increasing seawater temperature, which was reported as rising 1.8°C during winter season in southwest Puerto Rico since 1998. The restoration of corals has also been significantly hampered following the massive bleaching event of 2005. A consensus among reports of several marine areas under Puerto Rico jurisdiction indicated an approximate 50% decrease in live coral cover (specifically nine coral reef communities located in La Parguera) while others reported a striking collapse in coral species populations. These also included reductions in commercially-important fish that were previously seen roaming coral reefs and are now rarely found in these waters. Although these reports may seem disconcerting, several efforts by federal and local agencies are being made to develop and implement better management and assessment procedures that can help reduce the negative impacts on coral reefs. Unfortunately, this present generation will not be able to see whether these attempts will have a substantial effect on coral reef ecosystems because of the extensive lifetimes of corals. However, future generations may experience the outcome of our efforts to conserve the corals of today.
On a more positive note, CCRI has begun studies on the role of deep reef ecosystems (40-100 m) and their possible link to the present-day shallow reefs. Preliminary descriptions of deep reef fish communities off the southwest of Puerto Rico were presented, indicating an abundance of piscivores at these depths. Observations of the benthic community structure of mesophotic coral reefs (45 and 60 m) seem to indicate a higher percentage of live coral cover in particular areas. Discoveries of coral species and invertebrates unreported in the Atlantic Ocean are also being studied for taxonomic classification with considerable possibilities for new species.
For more information about CCRI, please visit their website
A round table discussion with local scientists whose projects had been funded or are presently being funded by UPRSG were invited to converse on the role of microbial processes in marine ecosystems to help define critical, innovative research areas unknown to the field (Aug 28, 2008).