The planning phase began with the selection of a
habitat classification scheme appropriate for the CINMS.
The limiting factor of any habitat classification system
is the availability of information, which varies for
each species or specific habitat type. Thus, the level
of habitat categorization will be determined by the
quality of information accessible. A habitat
classification scheme should also be determined
objectively and have a systematic but intuitively
understandable structure (Mumby et al., 1999).
Any system that the CINMS staff develops or adopts
must incorporate many species with very different life
forms, habitat needs, and relationships. The ecological
relationships among species and between species and
their habitats can provide the basis for a
classification scheme. As part of the management plan
review process, the CINMS staff is considering adopting
the Essential Fish Habitat (EFH) scheme devised by the
National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS).