Marine Science Faculty Publications


Progressing from Data to Information: Incorporating GIS into Coral and Fisheries Management

Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date


Digital Object Identifier (DOI)


Introduction According to the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSFCMA 2006), the US Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council (Gulf Council) is responsible for the conservation and management of coral and shery resources in the federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico. With over 142 species in the Gulf Council’s coral shery management plan (GMFMC 2012a), including seven listed in the Endangered Species Act (assuming proposed rules in 77 FR 73220 are nalized), the trends and population status of Gulf coral species are themselves of direct concern. But beyond the regulatory obligation to directly manage coral as a natural resource, the Gulf Council recognizes the functional role of corals as habitat for a number of reef-associated sh species, including many of the most commercially signicant species such as groupers and snappers (e.g., Szedlmayer and Lee 2004) on which many Gulf shers depend for their livelihoods. For the most part, stock assessments and shery management plans for these reef-associated species do not account for potential changes in the ecosystem services that corals and other types of habitat provide. This is, in part, because the mechanisms that affect coral health are complex and not fully understood. However, as explained elsewhere in this volume (e.g., Bortone, Chapter 1; Sale and Hixon, Chapter 2), changes in coral health and productivity may lead to unanticipated changes in associated sh populations, in turn requiring unplanned (and perhaps more restrictive) management measures. Fortunately, the degree of uncertainty in management decision making can be decreased by providing more information on the status of coral, including its known distribution, relative health, ecosystem interactions, and the various factors that impact these conditions.

Was this content written or created while at USF?


Citation / Publisher Attribution

Progressing from Data to Information: Incorporating GIS into Coral and Fisheries Management, in S. A. Bortone (Ed.), Interrelationships Between Corals and Fisheries, CRC Press, p. 237-247