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Abstract

A benthic habitat mapping method was applied in St. Kitts and Nevis to create baseline data that serves as input for a marine resource management framework. High resolution satellite imagery (<4 m pixel), combined with an extensive field survey, facilitated the creation of the first high resolution benthic habitat maps for the coastal waters of St. Kitts and Nevis. We demonstrate how Small Island Developing States (SIDS) with limited resources, can employ a scientifically sound, yet relatively low-cost method to develop coastal benthic habitat maps. These data, along with other marine use information, were reviewed through stakeholder involvement and fed into a larger project aimed at drafting a federation-wide multi-objective marine zoning plan. The benthic habitat data quantified the spatial extent and location of key marine ecosystems and served as one of the critical data layers used in the marine zoning decision-support software. The modeled outputs provided insight to marine resource managers making decisions on how to balance both environmental and economic needs.