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Coral reef ecosystem monitoring training and capacity building to support improved resource management in American Samoa


Project Manager:
Bernardo VargasAngel
Project Years:
Project Summary:
Purpose/needs: The American Samoa’s Department of Marine and Wildlife Resources (DMWR), which is the current centralized authority responsible for coral reef management in the Territory, has reached out to the CRED to request training and capacity building, particularly in the field of coral demography and health monitoring and analysis. With the inception and implementation of the NCRMP, DMWR is interested in aligning its coral community monitoring efforts with the National Plan to better fulfill and implement territorial coral reef monitoring needs, as well as in areas of management. Funding is sought to address and satisfy the above mentioned jurisdictional needs by means of:  1-Identify the specific capacity needs (completed). 2- Provide training modules to address those needs (completed). 3- Help to develop an analytical framework of statistical procedures to obtain precise and unbiased estimates of ecological/ecosystem metrics that facilitate analyses essential to management decision-making (completed). 4- Additionally, to take the benthic monitoring training to a higher level, we would like to invite a max of 4 workshop participants (potentially 2 DMWR and 2 NMSAS)  to  to complete our routine pre-cruise in-water training here in Honolulu in Dec 2014, and consecutively have one member of each  agency participate as one of the three benthic coral divers during the American Samoa Legs of the 2015 ASRAMP cruise. In conversation with J. Waddell, she indicated that DMWR can access monitoring grant funds within the context of the territorial monitoring, and therefore within the budget we are requesting invitational travel support for 2 NMSAS staff  (completed). 5- Provide assistance with specific monitoring needsIssues/set-backs: The coral reef monitoring training and capacity building workshop, initially planned for August 2014, has been pushed back due scheduling conflicts of the trainers and trainees; the new date will be in Nov 2014  (completed). The project was conceived as a 2-year effort whereby in YR2 support will be prioritized towards the collection of baseline data at the Fagamalo community MPA; surveys will be taking place in October-November 2015.  Other affiliated projects: To the extent possible, this project will interface to complement and leverage efforts with other proposed FY15 proposals: 1) A post-mitigation re-assessment of the reefs in Faga’alu Bay led by Susie Holst; 2) “Identifying coral reef resilience potential in American Samoa based on CRED coral reef monitoring data” being submitted by CRED’s benthic team; and 3) “Eutrophication impacts on coral ecosystem health in Vatia, American Samoa” lead by David Withall (NOAA-NCCOS). The above-mentioned proposals request funds for additional sea days on the 2015 ASRAMP or fly-in missions to conduct field work. If funded this project will leverage field efforts and data from the areas of interest, improving the efficiency and robustness of the data used for all projects. Project partners: American Samoa DMWR, American Samoa Coral Reef Advisory Group (CRAG), the American Samoa Community College (ASCC), and potentially the National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa (NMSAS).    
Expected Outcome:
Currently, the Territorial, long-term coral reef community status and trends monitoring is solely based on percent benthic cover data. Given the variety in the structure of coral reefs and the complex nature of forces driving change, it is unwise to rely on a single metric when attempting to evaluate long-term change. Multiple metrics, including those that infer functional status of the reef ecosystem, provide greater insight, albeit at increased effort and cost. DMWR recognizes the limitations of their current coral community monitoring approach, and have reached out to CRED to incorporate coral size-class, recruitment, and health condition surveys to their monitoring efforts, in order to broaden and better understand the spatial and temporal patterns of change.  The management outcomes expected to result from these training activities including augmenting the scope, breadth, and value for monitoring efforts that DMWR is currently undertaking across the territory. Tangible products include: 1) transcripts of the scoping meeting where the capacity needs and training approach will be assessed and staged (completed); 2) training materials that partner agencies can keep for continued training of personnel;  (completed); 3) a basic analytical framework to summarize demographic data in a manner that is useful to managers (completed),  4) trained and invited two jurisdictional partner agency staff members to participate as benthic divers on the 2015 ASRAMP expedition (completed); and 5) coral demographic data (abundance, size-structure, and colony condition) from areas of special management importance (potentially Fagamalo; surveys scheduled for October-November 2015). Additionally, this project plans to interface with other parallel efforts that will be potentially undertaken by CRED and DMWR aimed at developing a data entry and management system for DMWR (Pacific Islands Regional Data Services), as well as the TNC-lead workshop on data analysis and incorporation, and Dough Fenner’s coral ID workshop.
Project Locations:
  • American Samoa
Jursdiction Priority Sites:
  • Vatia
Project Category:
Other Domestic or Global Project
Project Type:
Project Status:
Funding Ended
Associated Products:

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