chapter  13
Progressing from data to information: Incorporating GIS into coral and fisheries management
WithMark Mueller, John Froeschke, David Naar
Pages 16

Introduction According to the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSFCMA 2006), the US Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council (Gulf Council) is responsible for the conservation and management of coral and shery resources in the federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico. With over 142 species in the Gulf Council’s coral shery management plan (GMFMC 2012a), including seven listed in the Endangered Species Act (assuming proposed rules in 77 FR 73220 are nalized), the trends and population status of Gulf coral species are themselves of direct concern. But beyond the regulatory obligation to directly manage coral as a natural resource, the Gulf Council recognizes the functional role of corals as habitat for a number of reef-associated sh species, including many of the most commercially signicant species such as groupers and snappers (e.g., Szedlmayer and Lee 2004) on which many Gulf shers depend for their livelihoods. For the most part, stock assessments and shery management plans for these reef-associated species do not account for potential changes in the ecosystem services that corals and other types of habitat provide. This is, in part, because the mechanisms that affect coral health are complex and not fully understood. However, as explained elsewhere in this volume (e.g., Bortone, Chapter 1; Sale and Hixon, Chapter 2), changes in coral health and productivity may lead to unanticipated changes in associated sh populations, in turn requiring unplanned (and

Introduction ................................................................................................................................. 237 Ecosystem-based management and the Gulf of Mexico Large Marine Ecosystem ...........238 Progressing from decentralized data to readily available, relevant spatial information .......238 From data to information to management .............................................................................. 240 Making coral EFH more useful to resource managers .......................................................... 241 Seaoor characteristics: At the foundation of marine ecosystems ....................................... 242 Articial structures as EFH ........................................................................................................ 244 Satellite imagery: An information-rich data source ............................................................... 245 Socioeconomic data matter ........................................................................................................ 245 Data portals: Making information accessible .......................................................................... 246 Progressing forward ................................................................................................................... 247 Acknowledgments ...................................................................................................................... 247 References ..................................................................................................................................... 247

perhaps more restrictive) management measures. Fortunately, the degree of uncertainty in management decision making can be decreased by providing more information on the status of coral, including its known distribution, relative health, ecosystem interactions, and the various factors that impact these conditions.