Mexico’s Pacific coast features some of the most biodiverse rocky and coral reef ecosystems on the planet, that are home to hundreds of species of fish, marine invertebrates and iconic wildlife including sea turtles, dolphins, and sharks.
This past week, the WILDCOAST team hosted the “2nd Regional Workshop on Coral Reef Monitoring in the Mexican Pacific” in Huatulco, Oaxaca, Mexico. National Commission of Natural Protected Areas (CONANP) staff from seven marine protected areas throughout the Mexican Pacific attended along with university researchers and other conservation organizations for a total of 24 representatives in attendance.
The workshop provided an opportunity to share best practices and standardized monitoring protocols for the coral reef ecosystems that stretch along Mexico’s Pacific coast from Cabo Pulmo National Park in the north all the way to Huatulco National Park in the south.
Prior to 2016, there was no baseline for monitoring coral reef health and abundance in the Mexican Pacific – therefore cross comparing sites and data year over year was unfeasible. This collaborative of stakeholders, led by WILDCOAST for the past two years, has provided the ideal platform for implementing best management practices for coral reefs, and has streamlined monitoring protocols for CONANP staff to monitor coral reef health over time.
Across each of the seven sites – coral reefs and the surrounding ecosystems are monitored utilizing the same protocol one to two times a year. Surveyors monitor fish abundance, size and species as well as coral reef coverage and health. All data collected is implemented into a centralized database that can be accessed by CONANP staff from across Mexico, as well as academic researchers studying the coral ecosystems.
With constant human pressures, paired with the global threat of climate change, warming sea temperatures and increased ocean acidification, coral reefs around the world are under threat. It is more important than ever to ensure the conservation of coral reef ecosystems.