The Caribbean Coastal Marine Productivity (CARICOMP) Program is a regional scientific effort to study land-sea interaction processes, to monitor for change, and to provide appropriate scientific information for management of the coastal resources in the wider Caribbean region. The Program focuses on understanding the productivity, structure and functions of the three important coastal ecosystems: mangroves, seagrasses and coral reefs, throughout the region. Within the wider Caribbean region there is general agreement that many coastal systems are changing for the worse. The ultimate causes
are explosive population growth and human- induced changes, including intense tourism development. Because the underlying causes of this decline are diverse, there is no agreement on how the ecosystems can be stabilized and restored, or even on what constitutes sustainable development.
The CARICOMP program was therefore conceived as a Caribbean-wide initiative to identify the factors responsible for sustaining mangrove, seagrass and coral reef productivity, to examine the interaction between these ecosystems, and to determine the role of terrestrial and oceanic influence on them. Scientific monitoring of these three ecosystems is performed on a daily, weekly and annual basis throughout the region using the same monitoring protocol, as outlined in the CARICOMP Methods Manual which is available at www.ccdc.org.jm/methods_ manual.html.
The CARICOMP Program was launched in 1985; however the network did not become established until 1990 and became fully functional in 1993.
The CARICOMP Network
The CARICOMP network is comprised of the laboratories, parks and reserves, which are committed to conducting the CARICOMP protocol, the Steering Committee and a central data archiving and management centre at the Caribbean Coastal Data Centre (CCDC), University of the West Indies in Kingston, Jamaica.
The Steering Committee
The Steering Committee was established to bring management commitment and responsibility to the development and
implementation of the program. The Committee is recognized as the key "decision making" body for the CARICOMP Program and is responsible for the negotiation of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOUs) with participating institutions. The MOUs specify the responsibility of each institution to the network, including the nomination of a Site Director and the obligation of the network in terms of equipment and logistical support. The Steering Committee membership is dynamic and currently has 11 elected and 2 ex-officio members: Co-chairs, John Ogden and Eric Jordán-Dahlgren, David Bone, Jaime Garzón- Ferreira, Rahanna Juman, Björn Kjerfve, George Warner, Ernesto Weil, Bill Wiebe, Jeremy Woodley, Jay Zieman and ex-officio members Dulcie Linton and Dean Milliken.
CARICOMP Sites and Institutions
To date the network has established links with 30 institutions in 13 islands and 10 mainland countries. Of the 30 institutions, 18 are actively participating and send data regularly to the Data Centre, 8 are currently inactive and 4 have not yet implemented the protocols.