July 25, 2008

Jamaica Incorporates Reef Check Sites in National Monitoring Program

By Reef Check Jamaica Coordinator Loureene Jones

The National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) is the environmental regulatory agency of Jamaica and is committed to the management of Jamaica’s land, wood, and water through the encouragement and facilitation of sustainable and orderly development. NEPA is also an active member of the Jamaica Coral Reef Monitoring Network (JCRMN), which was formed in 2003 with the objective of prioritizing the areas of reefs to be monitored.

Recognizing the need to have better information about marine resources, NEPA has decided to systematically increase the number of monitoring sites until a representative number is achieved so that the data being gathered can properly inform management decisions. NEPA/Jamaica currently uses several monitoring protocols but has decided to use Reef Check as the primary method and will conduct monitoring at 36 sites over the period April 2008 to March 2009. This represents an increase over the number surveyed in the previous year and will be further increased in the coming year. These sites are monitored by the Ecosystems Management Branch of NEPA in conjunction with the JCRMN volunteer network.