- Project Leader: Dr Clare Fitzsimmons (PI), Professor Nick Polunin
- Sponsors: NERC-CASE and Environment Systems
- Partners: Turks and Caicos Islands, Cayman Islands and Anguilla governments, JNCC
Marine ecosystems provide important services to coastal communities in the UK Caribbean Overseas Territories (UKCOTs). These underpin sectors including fisheries and tourism, but are threatened by local activities like unsustainable fishing and pollution. To properly understand these resources and the impact of any management measures, monitoring is required, but costs of collecting baseline data and recurring monitoring surveys have been prohibitive. The overseas territories are increasingly important to the UK's international biodiversity commitments.
This work aims to develop a novel ecosystem service based, low cost marine monitoring solution, based on satellite imagery. Use will be piloted in the UKCOTs, where clear water and relatively cloudless skies facilitate the effective use of satellite imagery for analytical purposes. Novel object based imagery analysis (OBIA) techniques will be developed for the first time for the marine environment and validated using three UKCOTs case studies. The CASE partner, Environmental Systems (ES), has successfully developed and tested methods for terrestrial ecosystem service monitoring. Working with ES and the UKCOTs governments, the student will use satellite data to assess the suitability of the novel OBIA techniques for the marine environment. Marine ecological expertise will be drawn from Newcastle University's 30 year history of tropical marine teaching and research.