Basic Monitoring

Assessment of the status of the coastal and marine environment in the PERSGA region is an early issue that goes back to the days of the Program of the Environment of the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden. It was emphasized in Jeddah Convention and the associated Action Plan 1982.

Actual practical steps for initiating a regional monitoring program started early in PERSGA activities.

A mission of external experts assessed the conditions at all member states and their needs to start with the monitoring program.

The main objectives of the regional monitoring program early defined are:

  • to detected adverse trends as early as possible for implementing remedial action
  • to provide an objective test of existing environmental management effectiveness

Basic monitoring variables for achievement of these two objectives are summaries in the Table 1.

Table 1. Basic monitoring variables and their measuring methods and relevance to objectives




Nitrate, nitrite, total nitrogen, phosphate, silicate, pH


The Red Sea is an oligotrophic system, and elevated nutrient levels can give rise to red tides, toxic algal blooms, and can promote the colonization of pristine habitats by green algae. Bicarbonate is a major source of carbon for corals

Temperature, Salinity, Dissolved oxygen and Turbidity


Temperature anomalies have been linked to coral bleaching events. While remote sensing can provide a wide-area picture of temperature patterns, more localized data will be of great value in determining the frequency and magnitude of local events, and thus in defining relationships with greater precision
Temperature also together with salinity determine the water density and degree of mixing in the water column. They also have a major influence on oxygen solubility.

Turbidity limits the development of coral communities, and can reduce diversity.



Total hydrocarbons




Hydrocarbons may originate from port activities or from routine discharges from passing vessels (in addition to accidental losses and spills). Fluorescence measurement provides a rapid and cost-effective method of tracking and mapping hydrocarbons in the environment. This enables a better understanding of input sources and frequencies, and can help to identify habitats that are at greatest risk of exposure. It is also of benefit for assessing risk in response to accidents and spills



Chlorophyll a and Plankton




Chlorophyll measurements give important information on the overall phytoplankton biomass and primary productivity. Taxonomic identification of plankton adds to the regional picture of biodiversity, and can provide early warning of problems if changes in community composition are observed (plankton populations may respond more rapidly than other communities). Taxonomy can also assist in identifying species associated with unusual events.

Conceptual relationships

The Conceptual Framework establishes the links between existing program components and the basic monitoring. For each link, the appropriate issue or role is indicated. The diagram specifies the overall suite of variables to be measured and binds with major existing management programs developed by PERSGA such as fisheries, coastal habitats and biodiversity management plans.

Basic monitoring is the tool that with time will fully integrate these activities and thus could be seen as the heart of PERSGA’s activities.

The overall concept of the REMP addresses several aspects:

  • monitoring processes: tracking pollutant and stressor trends in key environments and processes and tracking critical primary and secondary production processes.
  • monitoring impact: assessing the status of biological community components, through contaminant accumulation measurements.
  • monitoring stress: assessing community dynamics in relation to anthropogenic stress and to determine trends and evaluate sustainability.

Activities will also be physically integrated, to ensure that resources are efficiently utilized. In particular, resources for the REMP provide substantial practical and logistic support to other monitoring activities. This will facilitate an increased rate of data gathering for these activities. Whenever possible, existing and proposed activities will be synchronized to ensure optimized quantity of data, most effective use of resources and facilities and optimized correspondence between different data types