ANGUILLA–The Department of Environment in conjunction with the United Kingdom’s Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Studies (CEFAS) held a two-day workshop on the Darwin Plus Project titled “Mapping Anguilla’s ‘Blue Belt’ Ecosystem Services.” It included personnel from the Departments of Fisheries and Marine Resources, Maritime Affairs Unit, Physical Planning, Disaster Management, Customs Department Marine Based Task Force and the Anguilla National Trust.
The project was commissioned in April 2016 and is scheduled to be completed in March 2018. The workshop is being conducted by Simeon Archer-Rand from CEFAS, Katie Medcalf from Environment Systems and Clare Fitzsimmons from Newcastle University. They presented the results of the project: how to build local capacity in using and interpreting acoustic survey tools and improve understanding of marine dynamics.
One of the major outcomes of this project is an upgraded marine habitat map which has been constructed using a combination of acoustic techniques including multi-beam bathymetry, remote sensing and backscatter data. This map provides an essential basis for environmental management and monitoring of future changes by the natural resource agencies in Anguilla. The training undertaken by the workshop will enable the establishment of standard operating procedures and quality control for the seamless, interdepartmental collection and sharing of marine data.
The Mapping Anguilla’s “Blue Belt” Ecosystem Services project was developed in response to the vulnerability of Anguilla’s marine biodiversity and sediment dynamics in light of increased incidence and severity of storms under climate chance scenarios. It addresses the ways in which shifting sediments can threaten critical ecosystem services, such as beach extent, reef health and diversity; and safe navigation. Initial mapping of Anguilla’s shallow marine habitats has started to address these growing concerns but large areas of deeper water remain unexplored. Mapping these has critical implications for protection and conservation of biodiversity in Anguilla.
The Mapping project utilises acoustic methods of remote sensing to improve satellite-derived bathymetry data, increase knowledge and understanding of deeper areas, support navigation to protect lives at sea and the marine environment and to form the basis for sustainable fisheries management.