Save the Date – March 11, Mesoamerican Reef Data Explorer Platform Launch

Press Release March 11, 2019

In commemoration of the Mesoamerican Reef Day, the Healthy Reefs for Healthy People Initiative (HRI) is launching the brand-new Mesoamerican Reef Data Explorer Platform in collaboration with Atlantic and Gulf Rapid Reef Assessment (AGRRA) where users will be able to visualize over 10 years of reef health data collected, through interactive maps and pictures.

The Mesoamerican Reef (MAR) spans more than 1,000 km along the coasts of Mexico, Belize, Guatemala and Honduras and supports the local economies and culturally rich livelihoods of over two million people. The Healthy Reefs Initiative (HRI), through a precedent-setting conservation partnership of over 70 partner organizations, is working to improve the health of this diverse ecosystem through science-based management recommendations.

Over the past 12 years, the Healthy Reefs Initiative (HRI) collectively and quantitatively assesses reef health and informs science-based management recommendations every 2 years. Today we are launching our Mesoamerican Reef Data Explorer Platform in collaboration with Atlantic and Gulf Rapid Reef Assessment (AGRRA) where users will be able to visualize the change on reef health data collected over 10 years, between 2006 and 2016, through interactive maps and pictures. Data is accessible by site and by indicator used to determine the Reef Health Index: coral cover, macroalgae cover, herbivorous and commercial fish biomass.

Our reliable measures of reef condition allow us to identify the most urgent threats and responses. HRI training workshops continue to strengthen scientific capacity. Our partners are scaling-up and improving management in 47 MPAs spanning almost 60,000 km2. Through our Regional Coral BleachWatch Network, we have quickly mobilized and supported teams of partners across the region to monitor coral bleaching.

The major threats such as coral bleaching events as well as the new rapid coral tissue loss disease detected since summer 2018 in Mexico, are also available in the Mesoamerican Reef Data Explorer Platform.

In the last 2018 Report Card on the Health of the Mesoamerican Reef, we showed an improvement on 3 of 4 indicators over the decade, including coral cover (18%), herbivorous fish (2,731g/100m2) and commercial fish (909g/100m2). The only indicator with no improvement was fleshy macroalgae, almost doubled from 12% in 2006 to 23% in 2016. Overall, the Reef Health Index improved from 2.3 to 2.8 over the past decade. Compared to global trends of widespread reef decline, these encouraging results of recovery are a testament to the benefits of collaborative management.

Each country’s unique history and management efforts affect the status of the four reef indicators. These trends are an urgent Call to Action for country specific management responses. The platform shows a 10-year perspective on reef health and conservation aimed to ensure our reefs will endure and thrive into the future.

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