Seabed habitat data is critical for effective marine management and conservation but can be hard to obtain, standardize, and analyse. Given the importance of habitat data to stakeholders around the world, in the last few decades a concentrated efforts had been made to consolidate benthic habitat datasets in a single location with a standardized classification system and open accessibility.
In Europe, this has been largely accomplished thanks to the European Marine Observation and Data Network (EMODnet), a network of organisations who work together to observe the sea, process the data according to international standards, and make that information freely available as interoperable data layers and data products. The Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) is currently leading the Seabed Habitats section of EMODnet and is working to expand its geographical scope to include EU Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs) and UK Overseas Territories (UKOTs) in the Caribbean.
Although various organizations have collected benthic habitat data throughout this region, this data has yet to be incorporated into EMODnet. By working with JNCC and the Mid-Atlantic Environmental Research Institute (of which SAERI is a member), this project aims to collate Caribbean habitat data, upload data to EMODnet, and build capacity across MAERI for GIS and marine data management to work towards the long-term goals of EMODnet for making more marine data findable, accessible, interoperable, and reusable.