University of the West Indies, Jamaica: Portland Bight Protected Area

In 2013 the Government of Jamaica revealed plans to establish a transhipment port within Portland Bight Protected Area (PBPA), the largest protected area in Jamaica. This has created significant controversy nationally and internationally with numerous responses and campaigns against the proposed development. To date, what appears to be lacking is sufficient data and evidence on what resources, particularly with respect to marine ecosystems, may be at risk.

In order to address this shortcoming surveys of the marine ecosystems, specifically the coral reefs within the Portland Bight Protected Area (PBPA) are being surveyed to determine their current health and condition. Following the Atlantic and Gulf Rapid Reef Assessment (AGRRA) protocol surveys are being carried out to collect data on coral, fish, algae, and motile invertebrates.

Dr. Suzanne E. Palmer, Department of Life Sciences at The University of the West Indies Jamaica, is conducting a project that aims to: 1) provide the most up-to-date and comprehensive assessment of coral reef health & condition within the PBPA; and 2) assess changes in reef structure and health since the last reef surveys (Reef Check 2003-2005, and others by NEPA). This information will increase public awareness of the marine ecosystems within the PBPA and provide an accurate assessment of the marine ecosystem services to development and conservation decision makers.

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