Platform and fringing reefs with well-developed frameworks grow to maximum depths of about 21 m off the city of Veracruz in a naturally turbid environment on the narrow continental shelf in the southwestern Gulf of Mexico. The reefs have been impacted in recent decades by increases in terrigenous sediments and by pollutants, coral diseases, overfishing and other stressors. The possibility of further endangerment by ongoing expansion of the Port of Veracruz resulted in a request for training in the AGRRA survey protocols.
During the period Aug 21-26, 2017, AGRRA’s Judy Lang, Lorenzo Alvarez-Filip of UNAM (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México) and Marisol Rueda Flores of HRI (Healthy Reefs Initiative) presented a training workshop in Veracruz, Mexico on coral, fish and benthic ID and monitoring techniques, using the AGRRA protocols.
Eighteen participants attended the workshop from NGOs, dive centers, and research centers in Veracruz and Mexico City.
Throughout the classroom portion of the workshop, participants and instructors were able to share experiences of how to use the data generated with the AGRRA methodology to make recommendations on the management of the Veracruz Reef System. Observations showed that, despite the many threats that these reefs face, such as inadequate wastewater treatment, some colonies of large and healthy-looking corals can still be found.
On the final day and a half of the workshop, students conducted in-water monitoring of three sites adjacent to the new Port of Veracruz. In addition to this, some were able to experience coral spawning.
Special thanks to Dr. Horacio Pérez Espana of the Instituto de Ciencias Marinas y Pesquerías of the Universidad Veracruzana and Dr. Jorge Brenner of The Nature Conservancy for organizing this training and to Manuel Victoria of Dorado Diving for assisting with the in-water and classroom training.
AGRRA appreciates the opportunity to work with partners to continue training workshops focused on marine conservation and reefs.