Habitats: Mangroves and coral reefs
Benefits: Fish production, coastal protection, tourism, renewable energy?
Application: MPA design
Pilot site: Grand Cayman & Barbados
Mapping Ocean Wealth supports the protection of up to 50 percent of the Cayman Islands’ territorial waters, generating new information that will help them reach this ambitious target.
The Caribbean region is one of the world’s most complex mosaics of marine and coastal habitats, comprising 10 percent of global coral reefs, 18 percent of seagrass beds, and 12 percent of mangrove forests. It also boasts 1,400 species of fish. Most of the region’s 40 million people are directly or indirectly dependent on the health of coastal marine ecosystems, with a robust tourism industry that provides both a challenge and an opportunity for advancing conservation at ecologically and socially meaningful scales.
In 1986, the Cayman Islands boldly set up a national system of marine parks. Now, through a collaborative initiative, the Cayman Islands set a goal of protecting up to 50 percent of their territorial waters, an ambitious objective that seeks to maximize both long-term protection and economic benefits of healthy marine ecosystems such as mangroves and coral reefs. Mapping Ocean Wealth is generating new information that will help the Cayman Islands define and manage these newly protected areas. The project is also working with other partners at a regional scale to develop ways to identify places where renewable energy is compatible with ecosystem protection and restoration objectives.