Environment and development
in coastal regions and in small islands
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Pilot Project Summary
Caribbean Coastal Marine Productivity Program (CARICOMP): Sustaining coastal biodiversity benefits and ecosystem services

Revision Date: 1st March, 2001.
Title:  Caribbean Coastal Marine Productivity Program (CARICOMP): Sustaining coastal biodiversity benefits and ecosystem services. (Former title: Coastal biodiversity benefits and ecosystem services [CARICOMP network]).
Goal: To contribute to integrated coastal management by: determining the factors that regulate productivity of the three main coastal ecosystems in the Caribbean region - mangroves, seagrasses, and coral reefs; and assessing the nature and influence of land-sea interactions.
Location: The network consists of 29 sites in 22 countries and territories: Bahamas, Barbados, Belize (2), Bermuda, Bonaire, Cayman, Colombia (2), Costa Rica, Cuba, Curacao, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica (2), Mexico (2), Nicaragua, Panama, Puerto Rico, Saba, Trinidad and Tobago, U.S.A., Venezuela (2)
Starting date: Planning began in 1985; data collection began in 1992.
Partners: Marine laboratories, parks and reserves in the countries and territories; Florida Institute of Oceanography, University of South Florida (who provide administration); MacArthur Foundation, U.S. National Science Foundation, and the U.S. Coral Reef Initiative, Department of State (who have provided support); UNESCO through: the Coastal Marine Programme 1985-1995; and the Coastal Regions and Small Islands platform 1996 onwards.
Pilot project leader: The network is coordinated by a Steering Committee composed of eight members, including two co-chairs. Current co-chair contact is: Dr. John C. Ogden, Florida Institute of Oceanography, 830 First Street South, St Petersburg, Florida 33701, U.S.A.
Tel:  813-553-1100, Fax:  813-553-1109
e-mail: jogden@marine.usf.edu
Description: CARICOMP is a regional scientific programme to study coastal ecosystem productivity. Major activities are:
(1) Cooperative networking by marine laboratories, parks, and reserves to investigate and compare productivity, structure, and function of the three main coastal ecosystems in the Caribbean: mangroves, seagrasses and coral reefs.
(2) Monitoring for ecosystem change at permanent stations within each site using standard research methods to build regional capacity and share expertise. For example, in 1999 the CARICOMP disease protocol was used to assess the incidence of coral disease in fourteen reefs at six diverse sites.
(3) Centralised data processing and storage at the Data Management Centre in the University of the West Indies, Jamaica, which regularly distributes analysed data to participating sites, serves as a clearing house for new ideas and methods, and coordinates investigations of regional biological, oceanographic, and meteorological phenomena, such as the mass mortality of Diadema or coral bleaching events.
(4) Evaluating and comparing data to determine the nature of ecosystem change and influences on coastal productivity, seeking to discriminate human disturbance from long-term natural variation in coastal systems.
(5) Documenting the distribution, structure, and function of coastal ecosystems and the extent to which these attributes are influenced by contact with land.
(6) Working with communities at selected sites to collect data on coastal resource use and assist with community development, facilitating local management.
Achievements & Assessment: Major achievements of the project to date are:
(1) Realisation of a Caribbean coastal research network (presently 29 sites in 22 countries/territories) with a management structure made up of an International Steering Committee and Site Directors at each site, formalized by a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) specifying the responsibilities of each site to the network and the contribution of the programme in equipment and logistical support.
(2) Production and distribution of the CARICOMP Methods Manual: Level I  (1994, revised 1998) which defines a common methodology to permit participation of all members and allow comparative analysis of data from a broad spectrum of coastal zones, where the structure and function of component ecosystems differ and the magnitude of terrestrial influence varies. The Level I Manual stresses simple techniques, using readily available equipment that is easily maintained, to guarantee frequent, regular, and reliable data collection.
(3) Establishment of the Data Management Centre (DMC) at the University of the West Indies, Kingston, Jamaica in 1992. Standardised data spreadsheets sent from each site are entered into the system. Analyses can be conducted on an individual station, site, country, or region-wide basis. Data are sent to REEFBASE, initiating the Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network (GCRMN) in the Caribbean region. The DMC also coordinates the electronic list that links the network.
(4) Information exchange, identification and evaluation of regional events, and forums resulting in updates of monitoring protocols and network directions facilitated by regional workshops and Annual Site Directors meetings.
(5) Dissemination of results through annual programme summaries. Papers based on the first three years of data were published in the Proceedings of the 8th International Coral Reef Symposium (1996). Site descriptions with summaries of local research were published in 1998 (CSI papers 3). Several other papers are available in journals and/or on the World Wide Web.
(6) Discussion between natural and social scientists on the potential role of CARICOMP to monitor coastal resource use and facilitate community-based management was stimulated by an inter-sectoral workshop in 1998. The UNESCO workshop report includes results of socioeconomic surveys at seven sites.
Future Directions: Future directions for CARICOMP are:
(1) To expand coverage to include more anthropogenically disturbed sites and add more sophisticated methods to the methods manual; Level II, currently underway at several sites, introduces new biological and physical measures.
(2) To explore ways in which long‑term monitoring capability can provide baseline data on coastal and marine biodiversity, document ecosystem responses to change including human impacts and climate change, and contribute to the development and application of wise practices.
(3) To directly address human-environment interactions and management alternatives for coral reef, seagrass and mangrove ecosystems, since it is now apparent that Caribbean coastal ecosystems are degrading because of increasing anthropogenic stresses superimposed upon natural trends.
(4) To develop collaborations between natural and social scientists, exploring the application of research results to integrated coastal management.
(5) To implement protocols to monitor coastal resource use, focusing on the interface between ecological and socio-cultural systems.
(6) To strengthen the network by continuing to build capacity in coastal regions and small islands, making data and expertise available to enhance sustainable management, encouraging linkages with geographic information systems and trophic models such as ECOPATH, and promoting electronic communication between sites and development of the CARICOMP web page.


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