The Caribbean LME has an extension of approximately 3.3 million Km 2 . It constitutes a distinct and globally important bio-geographical region with exceptionally high levels of species endemism.
The North Brazil Shelf (NBS) LME has an extension of approximately 1 million Km 2 (slightly larger than the area of Venezuela) and extends south-southeast along North-Eastern South America from the boundary with the Caribbean LME to its southern limit near the Parnaiba River estuary in Brazil. The LME is characterized by a wide shelf; the sea bed is formed mainly by mud in shallow water, and by sand, mud, and gravel in deeper water. It features macrotides and upwellings along the shelf edge. It receives high volumes of freshwater and sediments from terrestrial river basins in South America – including the Amazon and Orinoco basins- which are transported by the North Brazil/Guyana Current through this LME, into the Caribbean Sea.
The NBS LME has moderately diverse food webs and high production due in part to the high levels of nutrients coming from the Amazon and Tocantins rivers, as well as from the smaller rivers of the Amapa and western Para coastal plains. This highly productive environment hosts important fisheries, such as shrimp fisheries, and while the extent of coral reefs in this LME are limited, mangroves are abundant, especially at the mouth of big rivers.
The CLME+ region occupies a globally highly relevant position in terms of its share in the total coverage of key tropical marine habitats known to deliver substantial contributions to globally important ecological processes. Approximately 10% of the world’s coral reefs, and around 20% of the world’s remaining mangrove forests are located within the CLME+ region. In a similar way, it is estimated that at least 25 to 50% of the world’s seagrass beds would be located within the CLME+ region. Globally, mangrove forests, seagrass beds and salt marshes
contribute almost 50% of the total organic carbon burial in ocean sediments, known as ‘blue carbon’. As such, these habitats help in constraining the rise in atmospheric carbon dioxide, and provide nursery grounds for regionally and globally important fish stocks (Holmyard, N., 2014). Of high relevance for fisheries are also the continental shelf and pelagic ecosystems. Therefore, the CLME+ SAP focuses on three so-called “sub-ecosystems”: the coral reef, the pelagic and the continental shelf sub-ecosystems (Figure x).