KINGSTON, Jamaica (CMC) — The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Cartagena Convention Secretariat and the Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries Institute (GCFI) say they have developed a document designed to help regional partners make informed decisions about coral disease monitoring and response to the newly identified Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease (SCTLD).
“Stony coral tissue loss disease can have devastating impacts on Caribbean coral reefs and on the communities and economies that are dependent on them,” said Ileana Lopez, programme officer for the Cartagena Convention’s Protocol Concerning Specially Protected Areas and Wildlife.
The new document provides a comprehensive overview of coral disease, from its distinguishing characteristics and appropriate monitoring strategies to its impacts on coral reef ecosystems and threats to economies in the region.
It also highlights best management practices and communication techniques, as well as possible interventions to respond to the disease.
“The document contains up-to-date, credible, scientific information,” said Robert Glazer, GCFI’s executive director, adding “it’s also designed to be as user-friendly as possible for Caribbean policymakers, natural resource managers, and field practitioners who need to have the best science at their fingertips as they face this new threat to coral reefs”.
“We know that regional collaboration between managers and multiple actors at various levels is essential to respond to the threat that SCTLD poses to the Caribbean region,” added Lopez.
Accordingly, the White Paper describes existing platforms for collaboration, such as the SCTLD Caribbean Cooperation Team coordinated by the United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Coral Reef Conservation Program and the Atlantic and Gulf Rapid Reef Assessment Program (AGRRA).
It also highlights further recommendations on how actors at regional, national, and local levels can plan and work together to tackle the coral disease.
The White Paper on Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease can be accessed on the website of the UNEP Cartagena Convention Secretariat and the Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries Institute. The development of the White Paper was made possible through funding provided by the government of Sweden.