FORCE (Future of Reefs in a Changing Environment) recently released a preliminary report on their 2011 survey of reefs in the Dominican Republic. Their study showed that reefs in the Dominican Republic may improve if regulations are set similar to La Caleta, an area protected from fishing and anchoring, and co-managed by Reef Check Dominican Republic since 2007.
The FORCE project uses an ecosystem approach that links the health of the ecosystem with the livelihoods of dependent communities, and identifies the governance structures needed to implement sustainable development. The overall aim of FORCE is to provide coral reef managers with a toolbox of sustainable management practices that minimize the loss of coral reef health and biodiversity.
Reef communities were surveyed at 10-15m depth in 15 locations during June 2011.
The highest mean coral cover per site was found at La Caleta (43%) while the lowest coral cover was observed at Sosua (10%). La Caleta also had the highest number (46) and density (8.2 individuals per m2) of coral recruits.
Over 4 kilometers of reef were surveyed for fish. Cayo Arena had the highest fish abundance, while Sosua had the lowest. However, the mean fish species richness was highest in La Caleta (average of 29 species per transect), with the lowest again in Sosua (9 species per transect).
Overall, fish communities were healthiest in protected areas such as La Caleta or remote areas such as Cayo Arena. La Caleta also had the healthiest bottom communities, with high coral cover and high sponge diversity. The only lobster and conch counted in the Dominican Republic were also within La Caleta Reserve.
Click here to view the full report.