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Welsh scientists join Cayman Islands conservation project

A Welsh University is using its expertise to help conserve ocean habitat’s in the Caribbean.

Scientists at Bangor University’s School of Ocean Sciences are part of team that have launched a new ocean habitat conservation project in the Cayman Islands.

The project has received a grant from the Darwin Initiative - which aims to use UK expertise to help conservation and biodiversity projects across the World (Photo: Bangor University)

The £817,000 project is run in collaboration with the Government of the Cayman Islands and The Nature Conservancy organisation based in the USA.

Senior Lecturer in Marine Biology in the School of Ocean Sciences, Dr John Turner said:

“The Cayman Islands present a rich marine environment, benefitting from over two decades of world class in situ conservation.

“However, over this time, global, regional and local changes have occurred, threatening biodiversity and the livelihoods of island nations, and conservation initiatives need to keep apace.

“Increased sea temperature, coral bleaching and other climate change impacts such as storm frequency, rising sea levels and ocean acidification are global threats.

See photos from a Bangor University survey in the Cayman Islands

“We must ensure that marine ecosystems such as coral reefs maintain their capacity to recover from major impacts.”

Project Objectives:

  • To assess the current level of resilience of reefs around all three islands in Cayman;
  • To assess how habitats can be best represented by protected areas, using habitat mapping conducted during a previous Darwin Initiative project – In Ivan’s Wake;
  • To quantify reserve effects of protected zones and their ability to spill over fish and juvenile organisms into non protected areas;
  • To quantify the impact of recreational, artisanal and illegal fishing;
  • To use this scientific data alongside state of the art Marine Protected Area planning tools to produce options for an enhanced Marine Protected Area system involving stakeholders and full public consultation.
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