The Red Sea and Gulf of Aden (RSGA) are globally distinguished by their great diversity of marine environments, the number of unique species, and the importance of marine resources to the social and economic development of the region. However, the RSGA region has experienced rapid coastal development in the past four decades. This has been followed, in some places, by degradation of the marine and coastal environments and loss of its potential to sustain the livelihoods of coastal populations. The nations of the region have acted to conserve these environments. PERSGA was established for organizing regional activities, initiatives, and efforts for the conservation and sustainable use of natural resources. Great advances have been made during the last two decades in management and in the knowledge that has been gained about the marine environment of the RSGA. Data has been collected, and reviews and reports prepared to assist decision making and conservation measures.
Monitoring programmes for sensitive ecosystems were established during the Strategic Action Programme (SAP) in order to standardize data collection and survey methodology, and to compare the region’s status to similar regions in the world. Standard Survey Methods (SSMs) were prepared for the region followed by training of national teams of experts in these methods for accuracy, comparability, and the assurance of future surveys and data collection exercises. PER SGA participated with member countries in two regional surveys of coral reef ecosystems, the first during 2002 and the second during 2008. The two surveys followed the designated SSMs; the latter survey also aimed to determine the minimum number and location of sites for a long-term, regional, coral reef monitoring network.
This report presents data from the 2008 survey. A total of 36 sites (5 in Djibouti, 8 in Egypt, 3 in Jordan, 9 in Saudi Arabia, 4 in Sudan, and 7 in Yemen) were chosen by PERSGA and national team experts. The sites were selected to ensure they demonstrated a range of essential characteristics. These were based on their suitability for long-term monitoring activities and included: accessibility of the sites for future surveys, safety measures, national capabilities of team members, and logistics required in relation to the national facilities available.