By KAREN WELLS
What is a marine atlas?
Basically, a marine atlas identifies the underwater geographic features of an area. It is beneficial to anyone accessing the water for activities for such as fishing or research. It also looks at the human activity of an area.
Such an atlas is being developed to identify the underwater ecosystem features in and around Fogo Island and the nearby archipelago islands. The Fogo Island Ocean Atlas project is one identified as being part of the New Ocean Ethic, an initiative of the Shorefast Foundation.
“We don’t see anything when we look at the ocean other than the surface,” said Shorefast Foundation chair Gordon Slade. “This is about the marine features of these islands and fishing activity that goes on and went on over the years and where that human activity has taken place.”
Information for the Fogo Island Ocean Atlas will be compiled through historical records of data from fishermen and past and present underwater surveys. Local people would be asked to help identify the various underwater shoals and fishing grounds to add to the atlas information. The Marine Institute is also working with the Shorefast Foundation in developing the atlas.
“It’s a parallel thing to our other activity of citizen science, where we are looking at visually, things that are taking place at the surface and here we are looking at what is happening beneath the surface,” said Slade. “The more you know about the underwater ecosystem then the better you are to be able to do the right things for the health of the oceans and for the creatures that are living there.”
Work for the project is ongoing, with a completion timeline in 2015 or 2016.
“This is one of the activities that gives you a greater understanding and appreciation for the ocean environment and for the human interaction in that environment,” said Slade. “We need that to compliment the other things we are doing (as part of the New Ocean Ethic).”