The Marine Ecosystem Team now has recommendations for revisions to your cooperative’s Marine Indicators. These changes are now open for comment until Jan 15th. You can either comment at the bottom of this post or email me directly (rua@southatlanticlcc.org).

Here are the proposed changes to the Marine Indicators:

Abundance of gag grouper Index of potential hardbottom condition

Reason for selection: Hardbottom (including corals and livebottom) extent and condition is particularly important for a variety of marine species, is impacted by landscape scale stressors (e.g., water quality degradation, mining, dredging, beach renourishment), can be monitored and modeled with existing information, and is widely used and understood by diverse partners.

Proposed change: Spatially estimating abundance of gag grouper across the entire geography was not practical at this time. This new layer uses hot-off-the-presses estimates of hardbottom from the South Atlantic Bight Marine Assessment and uses protection status (EFH-HAPCs) in those areas as a way to ID places in potentially better condition. The general idea is that hardbottom in places with additional policy protections (like marine protected areas) will likely be in better condition overall.

Abundance of red drum Index of primary productivity

Reason for selection: Primary productivity can be used to identify both areas threatened by excess nutrients and important natural upwelling of nutrients important for ocean life, is easy to monitor and model, and is widely used and understood by diverse partners.

Proposed change: Spatially estimating the abundance of red drum across the entire geography was not practical at this time. This index uses satellite based productivity estimates to capture places where productivity is potentially too high and could cause issues like harmful algal blooms (shown in red and scored -1) and places of high (but not too high) productivity near the coast and out in the Charleston bump area (shown in blue and scored 1).

Index of nearshore forage fish Index of sea turtles and marine mammals

Reason for selection: This index identifies key areas of ocean productivity throughout the year, is regularly monitored and modeled, and is widely understood by diverse partners.

Proposed change: Spatially estimating the index of nearshore forage fish across the entire geography was not practical at this time. This new indicator uses sightings per unit effort of sea turtles and marine mammals to identify key areas of productivity and overall population changes.

View all the data layers