The first week of May CubaMar, in collaboration with our partners at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM) and HRI, organized a workshop that brought together again members of the Coral Reef Working Group of the Trinational Initiative. Twenty-eight participants from the U.S., México, and Cuba representing 14 different government agencies, NGOs, and academic institutions met to define coral reef research priorities for the Gulf of Mexico and Western Caribbean region. The workshop was hosted by UNAM and funded by HRI and CubaMar.
The objectives of the workshop were:
- Identify bi- or tri-national coral reef projects for the region with specific objectives that answered participant’s interests, as well as their institutions and national priorities (e.g., connectivity, coral restoration, spatially explicit biodiversity database, etc.)
- Identify uniform and comparable sampling methodology for coral reef ecological assessments to be used by collaborating institutions across the three countries (e.g. alternatives to AGRRA protocol, resilience assessment protocols, etc.)
- Identify potential funding sources for each project
- Develop a plan to document the actions of the TNI coral reef group in English & Spanish, adapting the Trinational Initiative Plan of Action, and the new research priorities identified at TNI 2015 in Havana .
Participants first brainstormed research priorities and gaps, then met in breakout groups where they developedspecific projects based on the expertise of the participants and the research gaps identified, and specifically discussed projects related to coral restoration, genetic and larval connectivity, population dynamics, ecosystems services valuations of coral reefs, human impacts on the reefs, and mapping of shallow and mesophotic reefs. Workshop participants are working together to further develop these projects and will get together again to update on the progress during the ICRS conference in Honolulu in June.
Outside of the workshop, participants enjoyed the wonderful food and unique sights of Mérida and México’s Yucatán Peninsula. Some participants even went night diving in a cenote!
Written by: Katie Thompson, Fernando Bretos, and Daria Siciliano.