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3) Map and characterize marine habitats around the northwest ridge. The Northwest Ridge had some extensive coral habitats with a very high cover of live corals and the highest biomass of fish populations found on the Bank overall. The corals were very healthy and diverse. Fish biomass was substantially higher here than that observed anywhere else on the Bank, illustrating the importance of the coral habitats in these areas as shelter and feeding grounds for reef fishes. The reef areas were separated by large expanses of gorgonian hardground, rubble fields and sand flats, however. Because these habitats are much less sensitive than coral reef areas, any permitted exploration should be concentrated here, rather than in sensitive coral areas. A thorough assessment of the distribution and spatial extent of each habitat associated with the northwest ridge is needed, to ensure that coral reef habitats are identified and mapped before oil exploration or extraction is permitted. The mapping effort should emphasize Block 13 and 14 (see below) as these are located on the edge of the Bank in areas that could potentially support coral reefs. A more detailed examination and delineation of the spatial distribution and extent of different habitat types could allow environmentally friendly placement and operations of platforms, drills and other equipment, targeting less sensitive areas where impact to coral reef habitat is minimized. As an initial consideration, a buffer surrounding PB-17 should be considered to avoid unnecessary damage to precious coral reefs.

Mainland Jamaica and the surrounding waters have been divided into blocks for mineral and oil exploration. Block 13, 14 and 15 are the most sensitive areas on Pedro Bank due to the occurrence of diverse, high relief coral habitat.

 

Profile for Khaled bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation

Global Reef Expedition Final Report: Jamaica  

In March of 2012, scientists on the Global Reef Expedition set out to assess the community structure, health, and resilience of corals and c...

Global Reef Expedition Final Report: Jamaica  

In March of 2012, scientists on the Global Reef Expedition set out to assess the community structure, health, and resilience of corals and c...

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