The purpose of this project is to develop an updated benthic habitat map for Saipan Lagoon, CNMI, This proposal is in direct response to CNMI’s first jurisdictional priority as listed in CRCP’s FY16 Internal Call for Proposals, This jurisdictional priority requests: “support to update habitat map for Saipan Lagoon, via remote-sensing, ground-truthing, and production of map layers, to support future monitoring and management efforts.” The updated habitat map will be used to quantify habitat changes over time and to inform monitoring and management decisions (e.g. permitting), including being incorporated into the Saipan Lagoon Use Management Plan. The new map will be developed using updated high-resolution multispectral satellite imagery available from USGS’s Earth Explorer, and additional underwater ground-truthing and accuracy assessment videos/photos. Satellite data and in situ imagery will be collected and processed in a collaborative project led by our team NOAA/NOS/NCCOS/CCMA/Biogeography Branch (Biogeo). Various aspects of the project will be completed through in partnerships with CNMI’s Bureau of Environmental and Coastal Quality (BECQ) and Division of Fish and Wildlife (DFW), NOAA/NMFS/PIFSC/Coral Reef Ecosystem Division (CRED), and the University of Guam. The map and video products will support local conservation in CNMI, and assist the Coral Program in addressing its National Objectives of Emphasis, including supporting improved fisheries through benthic habitat mapping. It will also address the habitat mapping need identified in the CNMI Coral Reef Management Priorities document aimed at supporting the improvement of local fisheries. The project area explicitly covers priority sites and areas of particular concern identified by local managers in the CNMI Coral Reef Management Priorities document, including Garapan watershed. Habitat mapping products will be developed using an approach similar to that described in Houk and van Woesik, 2008. The resulting habitat map will depict the distribution of key biological and geomorphological habitats in the project region. This project is also expected benefit from and will support other ongoing or proposed projects in Saipan Lagoon including a FY16 funded State Wildlife Grant examining lagoon habitats and invertebrate abundance (PI Miller, CNMI Division of Fish and Wildlife) as well as a proposed bacterial source-tracking study to CRCP for FY16 (PI Graemer, NOAA). Sampling location videos and environmental data can be shared among these projects which will greatly expand the number of sample sites evaluated for each study. Literature Cited: Houk, P. and van Woesik, R. (2008). Dynamics of shallow-water assemblages in the Saipan Lagoon. Marine Ecology Press Series. 356: 39–50.
The products developed during this project will provide a critical spatial framework to better understand benthic habitat distributions and the changes to these distributions over the last decade in Saipan Lagoon. Future projects or management actions in Saipan Lagoon will benefit greatly from the updated imagery, habitat map and underwater videos compiled during this project to make more informed decisions about sampling, permitting activities, MPA management, land-based sources of pollution, fishery regulations, climate change, and scientific research.
- Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands
Jursdiction Priority Sites: