Acosta, A.

A Management Capacity Assessment of Selected Coral Reef Marine Protected Areas in the Caribbean


This report presents the findings of an assessment of capacity building needs for the management of marine protected areas (MPAs) in the Caribbean region. A total of 27 MPA sites in 10 countries and territories were included in the assessment, which is an initiative of NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program (CRCP) in partnership with the Caribbean Marine Protected Area Management Network and Forum (CaMPAM). A gap analysis of existing MPA capacity documents revealed a great deal of variation in the purpose, geographic scope, methodology, and nature of capacity information that has been collected to date. As such, a broad-based comparison of existing information was challenging and would likely not provide an accurate analysis. Accordingly, for this assessment a new survey tool was developed based on a modified version of an existing NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program MPA Management Assessment checklist ( This tool, intended to be a guided self-assessment, was used by the consultants in an interview process whereby they read through questions with site managers and then allowed the managers to self-select the answers that they deemed most appropriate for their site’s situation. Each question was followed by a more thorough discussion about why that answer was selected. The regional results demonstrate that the current perceived capacity of sites is greatest in relation to zoning/boundaries, governance, management planning, stakeholder engagement, conflict resolution mechanisms, and outreach and education. Current perceived capacity of sites is lowest in relation to alternative livelihoods, socioeconomic monitoring, and fisheries management.

Priority MPA management capacity needs as identified by managers are:

  1. enforcement (10 sites)
  2. financing (9 sites)
  3. management planning, bio-physical monitoring, socio-economic monitoring (7 sites), and
  4. MPA effectiveness evaluation, and outreach and education (6 sites).

Preferred approaches to capacity building at a regional scale are:

  1. technical support,
  2. training,
  3. more staff,
  4. learning exchanges, and
  5. higher education course.

Individual site results provide more detailed information under the “rationale” narrative sections and can inform users of more specific details of the local situation and capacity strengths, and challenges. 

Data type
Research report
Education and outreach
Research and monitoring

Rapid invasion of Indo-Pacific lionfishes (Pterios volitans and P.miles) in the Florida Keys, USA: Evidence from multiple pre- and postinvasion data sets

Over the past decade, Indo-Pacific lionfishes, Pterois volitans (Linnaeus, 1758) and Pterois miles (Bennett, 1828), venomous members of the scorpionfish family (Scorpaenidae), have invaded and spread throughout much of the tropical and subtropical northwestern Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea. These species are generalist predators of fishes and invertebrates with the potential to disrupt the ecology of the invaded range. Lionfishes have been present in low numbers along the east coast of Florida since the 1980s, but were not reported in the Florida Keys until 2009. We document the appearance and rapid spread of lionfishes in the Florida Keys using multiple long-term data sets that include both pre- and post-invasion sampling. Our results are the first to quantify the invasion of lionfishes in a new area using multiple independent, ongoing monitoring data sets, two of which have explicit estimates of sampling effort. Between 2009 and 2011, lionfish frequency of occurrence, abundance, and biomass increased rapidly, increasing three- to six-fold between 2010 and 2011 alone. In addition, individuals were detected on a variety of reef and non-reef habitats throughout the Florida Keys. Because lionfish occurrence, abundance, and impacts are expected to continue to increase throughout the region, monitoring programs like those used in this study will be essential to document ecosystem changes that may result from this invasion.

Data type
Scientific article
Research and monitoring