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St. Croix, USVI Trip Report
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  • Description:
    A collaborative research effort between the NOAA’s National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science (NCCOS), Center for Coastal Monitoring and Assessment’s (CCMA) Biogeography Branch (BB) and the National Park Service (NPS) has been inventorying and assessing reef fish populations in reef and reefassociated habitats in the northeast region of St. Croix from 2001-2011. The diver-based fish and benthic community survey methods have been developed to enable broader region-wide coverage at the scale of the USVI yet maintains high precision at smaller - Marine Protected Area (MPA) - spatial scales. Region-wide population metric estimates are required to effectively manage reef fisheries but are also imperative for spatial management and understanding ecosystem-level processes, such as measuring MPA efficacy. To date, very little information exists outside the northeast portion of St. Croix and this effort was designed to establish a baseline characterization for the whole island of St. Croix. This effort was also a logistical as well as statistical primer for the implementation of the National Coral Reef Monitoring Program that will start in 2016. This program will implement a standardized fish and benthic community surveys across the USVI, Puerto Rico, Florida Keys and Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary and serve as a broad scale monitoring tool for the foreseeable future.

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