In October 2015, the Waitt Institute led an expedition to investigate the status of marine resources in Montserrat’s coastal habitats. During a two-week expedition, the abundance and diversity of coral and fish communities as well as the distribution of marine habitats were surveyed around Montserrat by a team of coral reef and fish experts. Thirteen scientists from Jamaica, Venezuela, Portugal, the Virgin Islands, and the United States gathered on Montserrat to conduct these surveys. The expedition was also joined by 6 divers from Montserrat and 2 boat captains from Barbuda Fisheries and Codrington Lagoon National Park.
A total of 516 sites were visited and 202 coral and fish dive surveys were conducted. Fish are crucial to reef health and people’s livelihoods. Nearly 40,000 fish were counted during the expedition and were comprised of 227 different species. Whilst 43 of the 65 species of Caribbean corals were identified during the expedition including the more sensitive and endangered Elkhorn and Staghorn coral which were rare.
All raw data collected during the scientific assessment has been provided to Ms. Lavern Ryan, GIS Manager at the Physical Planning Unit on behalf of the Government of Montserrat per the Memorandum of Understanding that has been signed between the government and the Waitt Institute on sharing data. The data is being analysed over the next few months and a full report of the Assessment’s findings will be made available to the public in September after all the data is analyzed.
The aim of the scientific assessment is to produce a report on marine resources around Montserrat that can be used to inform the development of policies to manage these resources sustainably. This assessment is a critical step in Blue Halo Montserrat and its comprehensive, science-based approach to ocean zoning.
Additional information and resources:
Waitt Institute: http://www.WaittInstitute.org