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Mapping and EcoSpatial Information Products to Support Coral Reef Ecosystem Management in the Pacific Islands Region


Project Manager:
Annette DesRochers
Project Years:
Project Summary:
This project will continue activities undertaken by the EcoSpatial Information Team (ESIT) at the Coral Reef Ecosystem Program. ESIT performs an essential role, providing crosscutting data and analytical services—including the ability to collect and analyze primary mapping data, geospatial analysis, modeling, planning and design of data collection systems, and information product development—that address needs and issues at local, archipelago and regional scales.  In FY17, ESIT will 1) continue collection, creation, processing, and dissemination of geospatial data and mapping products fundamental to the effective management and conservation of coral reef ecosystems in the Pacific Islands Region, 2) document methods to develop comprehensive benthic habitat maps, and 3) design new or update existing data collection systems to improve the quality of the underlying data for those fundamental mapping products. Objectives include: collection, processing, and dissemination of acoustic, remotely-sensed and in-situ optical benthic habitat mapping data products; leveraging existing CREP monitoring and other available data to provide spatial analyses to support activities of jurisdictional and federal management agencies, educational institutions, and key stakeholders; and serve as a resource on best practices, methods development, and a clearinghouse for mapping and spatial analysis as applied to coral reef ecosystem research and management.These key thematic topics provide a framework for ESIT to approach issues at multiple scales and in a location specific manner: provide maps and information to support management of ESA-listed corals; evaluate, update, and make accessible essential data and maps to improve coral reef monitoring (NCRMP) and resource management; develop benthic habitat maps and documentation to support jurisdictional objectives; address data gaps in bathymetry and benthic habitat characterization to support local, regional, and national needs for fundamental basemap information; and improve data collection systems to 1) increase data collection efficiency, 2) increase leverage opportunities, 3) reduce data collection costs, 4) improve data quality, and 5) reduce or complement SCUBA-based monitoring efforts.
Expected Outcome:
The project’s priority focus areas support local managers in their efforts to implement ecosystem-based management of coral reefs and fisheries, to conserve coral reefs and the ecosystem services that people and communities value, the operational needs of CREP’s functional teams as they carry out NCRMP through field data collection, evaluation and analysis, and the creation of innovative products that synthesize environmental conditions and threats to coral reef ecosystems. Focus areas are: 1) continue to develop maps requested by the Pacific Islands Regional Office (PIRO) to support the management and recovery of ESA-listed coral species, including hard and soft substrate maps for coral reef ecosystems at 25 additional locations in the Pacific, 2) publish a NOAA Technical Memorandum on the methods used to generate updated benthic habitat maps for West Hawaii from bathymetric data as a follow-on to the maps that were developed for the CRCP and the Hawaii Division of Aquatic Resources priority site in West Hawaii and for the NOAA Habitat Blueprint Focus Area there, 3) derive bathymetry products from WorldView-2 satellite imagery to support PIRO in the development of a Management Plan for the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument, 4) improve access to several monitoring datasets essential for management of the Marine National Monuments by developing REST services and adding the data to the web-mapping application in development at the Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center ( to contribute to the ongoing effort to widely distribute data produced by the ESI team and CREP, and 5) develop a benthic habitat map for Rose Atoll Marine National Monument as part of a pilot comparative analysis involving Coral.NET.Consistent with the CRCP Fishing Impact goals and objectives, our products inform efforts to sustain and improve reef fish populations (F1.1, F1.5, & F1.6), support marine spatial planning and the establishment of effective marine protected areas (F2.1), and also provides spatial information to assist managers in addressing climate impacts in coral reef ecosystems (C2.4). A major focus of the project is to support the listing, management and recovery of coral species under the Endangered Species Act. Additionally, the information produced by ESIT tends to have broad use beyond the initial intended purpose. For example, the habitat maps prepared for the West Hawaii priority site have been published in the PacIOOS (Pacific Islands Ocean Observing System) mapper tool, and have been incorporated into a Story Map on the Habitat Focus Area website. Focus areas incorporate multiple data streams and methodologies which address specific issues, and result in numerous intermediate products that contribute to integrated geospatial analyses. Outcomes are: data layers, products, and methods, at relevant scales of analysis that serve as templates to be applied to jurisdictions, and region wide; new insights on species/habitat relationships; and significant improvement in benthic habitat maps to support and inform resource management actions. 
Project Locations:
  • Pacific Remote Island Areas
  • American Samoa
  • Guam
  • Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands
  • Hawaii
Jursdiction Priority Sites:
  • Pelekane Bay-Puako-Anaeho'omalu Bay (Hawai'i)
  • Talakahaya (Rota)
Project Category:
Project Type:
Project Status:
Associated Products:

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