Thursday, September 3, 2009

BREAM team prepares for 60 ft reef surveys

Rob Fisher setting up a transect line on Bermuda's forereef terrace

A fundamental impediment to marine resource management in Bermuda is the lack of critical baseline data of the benthic and fish populations present across fore-reef habitats, and within current marine protected areas of the Bermuda Platform. These reef habitats are large, covering over 300 sq. km., and of global significance as preliminary surveys indicate that the Bermuda fore-reef contains some of the healthiest coral and herbivorous fish assemblages remaining in the Western Atlantic.

As part of the BREAM mandate, and with the BZS research vessel "Endurance" and with financial assistance from the Department of Conservation Services (link), the Atlantic Conservation Partnership, and the Overseas Territories Environment Programme (link), we are going to undertake a comprehensive assessment of the entire fore-reef habitat at 10-m depth intervals across 3 depth zones, and of all spatially-bounded managed marine areas, using standardized methodologies. These new surveys will complement previous baseline surveys of the lagoon and reef crest already completed by our research team. The new information we propose to collect will be critical for the development of future marine zone management plans, and will allow Bermuda to meets its commitments as detailed in the Bermuda Environmental Charter, the Bermuda Biodiversity Action Plan, the Rio Convention on Biodiversity, and other Multilateral Environmental Agreements. Local resource managers will collaborate closely with our team on the project, and we will provide educational opportunities to local, UKOT and international students.