Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease

Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease

Since 2014, the Florida Reef Tract has been severely impacted by a newly documented coral disease which scientists are calling “Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease”. The disease has rapidly spread across coral reefs from Palm Beach to the lower Florida Keys and since October 2019 has been reported elsewhere in the Caribbean, including in Mexico, Jamaica, Sint Maarten, the Dominican Republic, the U.S. Virgin Islands, the Turks and Caicos Islands, Belize and Sint Eustatius.

The eighth MPAConnect peer-to-peer learning exchange for Caribbean marine natural resource managers sought to share valuable knowledge from managers and coral disease experts in Florida with counterparts around the region to help them identify the disease and learn how to respond to this new threat to important coral reef ecosystems.

In August 2019, 34 participants including twenty-two marine natural resource managers from 17 countries / territories in the Wider Caribbean participated in the learning exchange on stony coral tissue loss disease (SCTLD) in Key West, Florida. The exchange provided capacity-building support to countries and territories either currently affected by SCTLD or susceptible to its transmission.

The learning exchange succeeded in sharing with Caribbean marine natural resource managers the latest knowledge, science and protocols related to the unprecedented threat of SCTLD. The participants worked together and with expert and MPA manager mentor input to learn about and agree on best approaches for monitoring, identification, reporting, communications, treatment and other interventions that can be applied in response to SCTLD in the Caribbean region.

Technical expertise was provided by NOAA including the Coral Reef Conservation Program and the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, Nova Southeastern University, the International Maritime Organization and AGRRA.

Communications materials to help with outreach efforts to the dive sector have been developed and distributed to managers. These materials can be found at https://www.gcfi.org/emerging-issues-florida-coral-disease-outbreak/. Materials for managers to assist with SCTLD identification, action planning and communications can be found below.

Small grant support for follow-up projects was proposed by the learning exchange participants and has enabled immediate, practical local action in follow-up to the learning exchange. GCFI is overseeing the implementation of follow-up projects – ‘Partner Collaboration in Support of Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease Monitoring in The Turks & Caicos Islands’, ‘Building Capacity for the Management of the Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease Threat in the Caribbean in the British Virgin Islands’ and ‘Improving Stakeholder Support to Ensure Successful Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease Monitoring in Roatan, Honduras’.

Documents

Learning exchange documents

Presentations and Guides