In order to understand the dynamics and track the health of coral reefs as it relates to climate change, long-term monitoring is required.
Coral reefs are highly sensitive to changes in their surroundings environment.
Because of their response to light, temperature and sea level rise the health of coral reefs could potentially be an ideal indicator of human induced global warming and the resultant climate change.
In light of this, a number of organizations have designed and implemented coral reef monitoring programmes, many of which focus on the establishment of regional and global networks of monitoring stations.
A number of these monitoring networks have been developed over the past 15-20 years for use in the Caribbean, some of which have been adopted by the BVI and TCI.
Each monitoring programme was designed to answer different questions about the state of the coral reefs and hence have difference emphases. The more widely used monitoring programmes in the Caribbean include Reef Check, AGRRA, CARICOMP, REEF, and CPACC.
Other programmes which represent adaptation or combinations of these protocols have also been developed by individual countries. These monitoring programmes employ different protocols, requiring different levels of scientific expertise and collect different types of data.
Data processing, analysis and reporting are also handled in different ways. The paper recommends that each country should establish and maintain a meta-database on the coral reef data existing in their country, and aim to use technical and human capital more effectively.
In conclusion, the paper proposed how the CCCCC might enter into dialogue with the CMS to provide technical support.
The paper includes a synopsis of reef monitoring protocols.