Smithsonian Marine Station at Fort Pierce

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Program Overview

A researcher collects data on a coral reef in Honduras.

The Marine Conservation Program aims to describe how the mosaic of marine biodiversity and the activities of coastal communities are connected and interact across the seascape.

Integrating ecological, social and economic research, the program provides a descriptive analysis of how coastal ecosystems function in space and time, which can then inform the decision making process for marine spatial planning at multiple scales – from fishing villages to transnational marine areas.

Central components of this program focus on the design of marine reserve networks to meet both biodiversity conservation and fisheries objectives and the restructuring of fisheries to align ecosystem based management with improved economic returns for local communities.


Speared Lionfish
Local fishermen spear invasive lionfish.

Research Locations

The program focuses on the tropical marine resources and the artisanal and industrial fisheries of Central and South America, spanning the Western Caribbean and the Eastern Tropical Pacific.

A key area for the program is Honduras, where its research supports local science practitioners and community groups as they develop a network of marine reserves across the Honduran Caribbean and redefine how coastal communities interact and manage the local marine environment.


Specific Research Goals

Staghorn Coral
A stand of staghorn coral in Honduras.

Identifying the spatial and temporal scales for effective marine management requires an inter-disciplinary approach to collect and synthesize data from many different sources. The program combines:

  • Genetic and molecular techniques to identify patterns of connectivity at a range of spatial scales
  • Novel techniques to measure, monitor and interpret fishing activity in real time
  • Remote sensing and field surveys to map the extent and condition of marine resources
  • User friendly tools for stakeholders to collect and interpret relevant information

The program works across coastal ecosystems but has an additional focus on several commercially and ecologically important marine species including Spiny Lobster, Queen Conch, Yellowtail Snapper, Stoplight Parrotfish and Staghorn Corals.


Smithsonian Marine Station at Fort Pierce
701 Seaway Drive, Fort Pierce, Florida 34949
Phone 772-462-6220, Fax 772-461-8154

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