Development and Implementation of Coral Reef Biocriteria in U.S. Jurisdictions
Patricia Bradley 1, William Fisher 2, Heidi Bell 3, Wayne Davis 4, Valerie Chan 5, Buddy LoBue 6, Wendy Wiltse 7
- U.S. EPA/Office of Research and Development (ORD)/National Health and Environmental Effects Research Laboratory (NHEERL)/Atlantic Ecology Division (AED)
- U.S. EPA/Office of Research and Development (ORD)/National Health and Environmental Effects Research Laboratory (NHEERL)/Gulf Ecology Division (GED)
- U.S. EPA/Office of Water, Washington, DC
- U.S. EPA/Office of Environmental Information/Environmental Science Center, Ft. Meade, MD
- U.S. EPA/Office of Science Policy, Washington, DC
- U.S. EPA/Region 2, New York, NY
- U.S. EPA/Region 9, Honolulu , HI
U.S. coral reef ecosystems are threatened by a variety of anthropogenic activities (pollution, over fishing, vessel groundings, excess nutrients, and coastal development) and natural stressors such as tropical storms and climate change. The President’s Ocean Action Plan directs the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to develop biological assessment methods and biological criteria for evaluating the health of coral reefs and associated water quality. In response, EPA has formed a Coral Reef Biocriteria Working Group(CBWG) with representatives from EPA Program and Regional Offices. The goal of the CBWG is to foster development of coral reef biocriteria through focused research, evaluation, and communication among Agency partners and interactive implementation with U.S. jurisdictions.
The CBWG has developed an ambitious ‘roadmap’ for development and implementation of biocriteria that outlines goals and activities and tracks accomplishments. To date, the CBWG has produced and validated a Stony Coral Rapid Bioassessment Protocol for application to biocriteria and a coral reef bioindicators website for dissemination of information. Ongoing activities include development of a survey design and monitoring strategy for the U.S. Virgin Islands for biocriteria implementation, and comparisons of existing assessment methods for potential implementation. Guidance documents are planned to assist U.S. jurisdictions in reaching protective and defensible biocriteria.