[Coral-List] Low fishing regions of Caribbean

Emma Hickerson Emma.Hickerson at noaa.gov
Wed Jun 2 15:01:49 EDT 2004


The coral reefs of the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary
(FGBNMS), which are located 100 miles south of the Texas/Louisiana border in
the northwestern Gulf of Mexico remain extremely healthy, but certainly not
"untouched"  - but as close as we can expect in a world made accessible by
every increasing technology.  Due to the remote location, limited
recreational activities occur - approximately 3000 SCUBA divers/year.  Hook
and line fishing IS allowed within the Sanctuary, both recreationally and
commercially, however, the level of pressure is not known - mainly due to the
logistics of monitoring this activity at the site, and due to the manner in
which commercial data is collected and managed.   20 years + of long term
coral reef monitoring indicates the reefs have maintained approximately 50%
coral coverage on the coral caps - an extraordinary coverage in a global
climate of coral reef decline.  The reefs are dominated by extremely large
boulder corals (Montastraea sp., Diploria strigosa, Colpophyllia natans).
Branched corals are limited to Madracis mirabilis fields in the deeper
portions of the reefs.  Fish populations appear to be healthy. This is all in
spite of the fact that the FGBNMS is located in the middle of one of the most
productive oil and gas fields in the world (an active gas platform is located
within the Sanctuary boundaries, approximately one mile from the reef cap).

The uniqueness and health of this coral reef ecosystem warrants every effort
possible to keep these sites intact.   We are faced with issues threatening
the health of the reef on a regular basis - as all coral reef managers are.
The difference is that this reef is not in decline.  Our goal is to keep it
that way.

Please feel free to contact us for more information.

G.P. Schmahl
Sanctuary Manager

Emma Hickerson
Research Coordinator

Emma L. Hickerson
Research Coordinator
emma.hickerson at noaa.gov

Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary
1200 Briarcrest Drive, Ste. 4000
Bryan, TX  77802
PH:  979-846-5942, ext. 111
FAX:  979-846-5959

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