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Water Quality Standards for Coral Reef Protection
FISHER, W. S., A. L. HUTCHINS, L. S. FORE, W. S. DAVIS, C. LOBUE, AND H. BELL. Water Quality Standards for Coral Reef Protection . In Proceedings, 11th International Coral Reef Symposium, Ft. Lauderdale, FL, July 07 - 11, 2008. National Coral Reef Institute, Dania Beach, FL, 1103-1107, (2011).
Development of a rapid bioassement protocol for reef-building stony corals was tested for regulatory applicability.
The U.S. Clean Water Act provides a legal framework to protect coastal biological resources such as coral reefs, mangrove forests, and seagrass meadows from the damaging effects of human activities. Even though many resources are protected under this authority, water quality standards have not been effectively applied to coral reefs. The Environmental Protection Agency is promoting biocriteria and other water quality standards through collaborative development of bioassessment procedures, indicators and monitoring strategies. To support regulatory action, bioassessment indicators must be biologically meaningful, relevant to management, responsive to human disturbance, and relatively immune to natural variability. A rapid bioassessment protocol for reef-building stony corals was developed and tested for regulatory applicability. Preliminary testing in the Florida Keys found indicators had sufficient precision and provided information relevant to coral reef management. Sensitivity to human disturbance was demonstrated in the U.S. Virgin Islands for five of eight indicators tested. Once established, monitoring programs using these indicators can provide valuable, long-term records of coral condition and regulatory compliance.