2010 Report Card for the Mesoamerican Reef

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This eco health report card is the first comprehensive reef assessment of the Mesoamerican reef Ecosystem (MAR). It aims to provide timely, accurate and reliable information on the condition of the MAR resources and our degree of success at managing these resources. It will be produced every other year through the Healthy Reefs for Healthy People Initiative. The report card presents an easy to understand overview of reef ecosystem condition and stewardship by providing a straightforward five point grading system from 'very good' to 'critical' for seven reef indicators

Transcript of 2010 Report Card for the Mesoamerican Reef

Cardfor theReportReefMesoamericanAn Evaluation of Ecosystem Health2010WHATS INSIDE HEALTHY REEFS FOR HEALTHY PEOPLEThe 2010 Report Card highlights three focal sections-an assessment on the current state of the Reef; an update on existing and emerging threats to reef health; and a sample ofstoriesofhopeandneededactionstofosterhealthy reefsandhealthypeople.Asynopsisofkeyfindingsis presented up front in the Taking Stock section.First,thisreportcardbeginswithare-examinationoftheIndicatorsofReefHealth. Itreviewstheindicatorsthatconstitutethe HealthyReefIndexaswellasthegrading criteriaandthresholdvaluesforthese indicators.Newdatacollectedin2009at50 coresitesarecomparedtodatacollectedin 2006toshowchangesincethelastReport Card.Thetwo-pagelayoutmapprovidesa visual summary of the regional health data. A historical look at selected reefs with long term dataispresentedtounderscorethedegree andconcernofcoralreefdecline.Thisreport card does not contain new socioeconomic data becausetheresultsofthe2010censuseswere not available at the time of compilation.Next,theReportCardreviewsthesuiteof threats facing the reef, including several newly perceived threats that were not known two years ago. On the fore front is the alarming, rapid and widespread invasion of the beautiful but deadly exoticlionfish,whicharedevastatinglocal fishpopulations.Meanwhilethelossoflarge fishes,particularlycommerciallyimportant fishes,largeherbivorousparrotfishesandtop predators like sharks, continues to impact how reefs function as well as the quality of peoples livelihoods.Otherloomingthreatssuchas coastaldevelopment,climatechangeand thepotentialforoffshoreoilexplorationand drillingjeopardizethefutureofreefrecovery and survival.Finally,theReportCardtakesalookat positive reef management tools such as marine protectedareasandprotectionofendangered species.Severalsuccessfulcasestudiesbeing implementedthroughouttheregionare showcasedtoofferhopeforthefutureofreef health. BlueRibbonAwardsaregiveninrecognition ofsoundreefmanagementactions. Recommendationstoimproveandsafeguard reef health conclude the report card.Healthy Reefs for Healthy People (HRI) is a collaborative internationalinitiativethatgeneratesuser-friendly toolstomeasure,track,andreportonthehealthofthe MesoamericanReefEcosystem(MAR).Itincludesa formal partnership of over 30 organizations and informal collaborationswithgovernmentagencies,individual scientists,andotherpartners.HRIaimstoimprove reefmanagementanddecision-makingtoeffectively sustainaneconomicallyandecologicallythriving MAReco-regionbydeliveringscientificallycredible andrespectedreportcardsonecosystemhealthand encouraging the implementation of effective management recommendations.Inadditiontothe2008and2010 ReportCards,otherHRIpublicationsinclude:the2007 Healthy Reefs for Healthy People: A Guide to Indicators of ReefHealthandSocialWell-beingintheMesoamerican ReefRegiondescribingindicatorsbywhichprogress towardahealthyMesoamericanReef(MAR)canbe quantitativelytrackedandthe2008QuickReference Guidehighlightingthe20highestpriorityindicators and graphically illustrating their modern baseline values against reference conditions.All are available on: www.healthyreefs.orgSTATUSTHREATSACTIONS1THE MESOAMERICAN REEFAN INTERNATIONAL ECOREGIONTe spectacular Mesoamerican Reef includes the WesternHemisphereslongestbarrierreefandadiversearrayof reefformationslinkedtogetherbycomplexoceanographic currents.Extending over :,ooo kilometers from Mexico toHonduras,thisvastcomplex,withitsneighboring seagrassmeadows,deepandshallowlagoons,andcoastal mangrove forests, forms a dynamic mosaic that nurtures the Mesoamerican hotspot of biological and cultural diversity. Te regions terrestrial topography includes the fat, low lyingareasoftheYucatan,Mexicoandthedryclimate,few rivers,anduniquesubterraneanwaterfowsofnorthern Belize.Farthersouth,thelandscapechangestotallcoastal mountains, much more rainfall, and numerous large riversin southern Belize, Guatemala, and Honduras.Teoverallecoregioncoversapproximatelyaoa,a:okm:, with:o:,oa8km:inwatershedsand:,:,,,:km:indiverse marinehabitats.In:oo,,theleadersofthefournations (Mexico,Belize,Guatemala,andHonduras)signedthe historicTulumDeclaration,whichpledgedsupportfor conserving this shared resource.Teregionseconomiesarehighlydependentonmarine resources, especially tourism and fshing industries. In Belize alone,thereefwasestimatedtocontributeapproximately s,o,-s,,omillionUSdollarsingoodsandserviceseach year.: Here more than most places, the health of our peopleourcommunitiesandoureconomiesdependsonour ability to restore, nurture, and maintain our healthy reefs.Belize CitycunvrmntnmrxcourtzrnounuanscunvrmntnmrxcourtzrnounuansPuertoLempiraSan Pedro SulaPuertoBarriosBelmopanTegucigalpaGuatemalaChetumalMridaCancncs|aatnst005050100 km100 milesNElevation (ft)0|0|0!00!00600600|,z00|,z00|,800|,800!,000!,0004,004,006,0006,0007,00Bathymetry (m)0z0z0z00z00z000z000+Coral Reef Mesoamerican Reef Ecoregiontrxicou.s.t.cuatrtsttvtooacut+rttttartizrnonouatsnictatcutctvttnisttnos mrsonmracnuarrrcs|aatnstouttotntx|cotn|coctnrc|t|coctn00100100200 km200 milesNLocator map and detailed map of the Mesoamerican Reef Ecoregion.Map Resources and World Resources Institute2A WORLD OF CHANGES SINCE 2008Telasttwoyearshavebeenatimeofimmensechange. AtthetimeoflaunchingthefrstReportCardin:oo8, theworldwasjustbeginningtorecognizetheextentand implications of the global economic crisis and the expansion oftheinvasivelionfshintotheMesoamericanReefhad notyetbeendocumented.InMay:ooo,reefmanagersin southernBelizeandneighboringHonduraswererudely awakenedtothesubstantiallossesofcoralreefhabitat resulting from a major earthquake of the island of Roatan. Ten,inApril:o:o,theentireworldbecamekeenlyaware oftheimmediateanddevastatingefectsoncoastaland marine ecosystems caused by the oil rig blowout in the Gulf of Mexico.Suddenly, our threats listexpanded.As governments, civil society and the public struggle to deal withtheburdensofeconomiccrisesandescalatingcrime andviolence,reefmanagersstruggletokeeptheissueof saving our dying coral reefs on the front burner. Meanwhile, ourplanetscoralreefsareonlifesupportandstruggling tosurvive,ascoraldiseaseandbleachingfurtherreduce coralcoverandwefacepossiblespeciesextinctionsdueto massivecoralmortality.Rampantpollution,habitatloss andincreasesinseatemperatureandoceanacidifcation continuerelentlesslyintheshadowofafailedCOP-:, thatresultedinnoconcretepoliticalactiontoaggressively address the unfolding global climate change crisis. STATUS: HEALTH OF THE REEFTe:oo8MesoamericanReefReportCardgaveusour frstcomprehensivelookatthehealthoftheregionscoral reefecosystemandtheimpactofourmanagementand stewardship eforts. Te :oo8 Report revealed that our once pristine reef was now in danger, with more than half of the ,:o sampled reef sites in poor (a,) or critical (o) condition. Yet, the a: reported in fair condition gave us some hope for recovery, and the urgency for an increase in the modest o of the Reef currently listed in good condition. Te :oo8 comprehensive assessment was based on , indicators of reef health combined into a single Index.Regrettably,this:o:oReportCarddoesnotdescribea pattern of recovery but one of further decline in the health of the Mesoamerican Reef see pages , to 8 for details. Te overallconditionofthe:,oreefssurveyed(andevaluated withfourindicators)foundanalarming,:ofreefsin critical condition, ,8 in poor, :a in fair, o good and :verygoodcondition.TetwoIndicesproducevery similar results. Five times as many reefs experienced declines versus improvements in health, as measured by ffy core sites assessed in both :ooo and :ooo. Regardless of which index is used the results clearly show more reef deterioration and callforstrongermanagementactions.Clearly,moreofthe numerousfairconditionsiteshavedeclinedincondition, signalingthereefecosystemmaybequicklyapproachinga critical tipping-point. TAKING STOCK:PERCENT OF REEFS IN DIFFERENT CONDITIONSVery GoodGood Fair Poor Critical41%47%6% 6%0%8%21%40%1%30%2008 Report Card 2010 Report Card326 sites - 7 indicatorsBased on 2005/06 data Based on 2009/10 data130 sites - 4 indicatorsTHREATS TO THE REEFTelistofthreatstoreefhealthhasgrowninscopeand intensity.Tefourmainthreats(over-fshing,coastal development,inlandlandclearingandagriculture,and climatechange)identifedin:oo8continuewithgrowing intensity.Lessthan:ofthefshsurveyedintheMAR were over :o cm (:o inches) long and sharks are now largely absent. Te invasive lionfsh is now virtually everywhere in the MAR, although eforts to control this exotic species are underway throughout the region.Te coastal development index for :o:o found the amount of modifed areas increased from::to,aofthecoastalMAR.ClimateChangeis alreadyimpactingthereefandthereislittlechanceofa global treaty that will protect coral reefs. Tere is a growing risk from increasing interest in ofshore oil development. ACTIONS TO SAFEGUARD THE REEFDespite the intimidating threats listed above, numerous reef management actions are working to overturn the reef decline. Over ,o marine and over ,o coastal protected areas are now beingmanagedintheMAR.Whiletheycannotprotect against all threats, MPAs do help manage many threats and help build ecosystem resilience to other threats. As one of the mostthreatenedandbiodiverseecosystemsontheplanet, coralreefsarenowbeingmanagedwithsomeofthesame tools that have been used with terrestrial endangered species fordecades.Casestudieshighlightingcoralpropagation eforts,naturalhopespotsandcommunityenabledlocal conservationsuccessesprovidesomehopeinaseaof uncertainty. Our leaders, globally and in the MAR region, must face the stark reality that business as usual will ultimately result not only in the loss of a magnifcent marine ecosystem, but the lossofincomefromtourism,costlydamagefromnatural disasters,andthelossofentirefshstocksthatfeedlocal peopleandsupporttheirlivelihoods.Itisjustthislinkage betweenhealthyreefsandhealthypeople(economies, communitiesan