Roger B Griffis Roger.B.Griffis at noaa.gov
Thu Aug 18 15:23:09 EDT 2005

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) 05-099
Contact:	Ben Sherman, NOAA Public Affairs
		(301) 713-3066, Ext. 178

New Report Makes Case for an Integrated Observing System

"The State of Coral Reef Ecosystems of the United States and Pacific
Freely Associated States: 2005"

The nation's coral reef ecosystems continue to face numerous stressors
from both natural and human sources including overfishing, disease,
pollution and climate change according to a new national assessment of
the condition of U.S. shallow coral reef ecosystems.  The report, "The
State of Coral Reef Ecosystems of the United States and Pacific Freely
Associated States: 2005," was authored by teams in 14 jurisdictions
where the corals are found and was released today by NOAA, the National
Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The report indicates that management actions are moving in the right
direction.  NOAA and federal, state, territory and local partners have
begun to implement "local action strategies" to reduce key threats to
reefs.  The U.S. Coral Reef Task Force and the U.S. Ocean Action Plan
called for this sort of action.

	"Healthy shallow coral reef ecosystems are a key factor for robust
marine ecosystems and the economic well-being of many coastal
communities," said retired Navy Vice Admiral Conrad C. Lautenbacher,
Jr., Ph.D., under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and
NOAA administrator.  "This report demonstrates the value of integrating
monitoring efforts from local to regional and global scales and
highlights the need to develop an integrated global earth observing
system that would provide coastal managers the best possible information
for ensuring the health of the world's coral reefs and other ocean

The report marks the first attempt to bring together quantitative
results of monitoring data and information collected by federal, state,
territory, commonwealth, non-governmental, private, and academic
partners to provide an overall status report on the condition of U.S.
coral reef ecosystems.

The report fulfills a goal of the U.S. National Coral Reef Action
Strategy and will be highlighted at the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force
meeting in early November in the Republic of Palau.

	"This report shows the effectiveness of collaboration by federal,
state, territorial and private partners to help conserve coral reefs. 
It is a prime example of the coordinated efforts the U.S. Coral Reef
Task Force is fostering," said Craig Manson, assistant secretary for
Fish, Wildlife and Parks in the U.S. Department of the Interior and
co-chair of the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force.

Coral reef monitoring activities are now being conducted in 14
jurisdictions, yielding important data about water quality, corals and
other organisms inhabiting the seafloor, as well as fish and other
species that live in coral ecosystems.  Investments in public outreach
and education are increasing public awareness of coral reef ecology and
conditions affecting reef ecosystems.  Scientists have expanded digital
mapping of shallow water coral reef ecosystems, and local managers have
revised fishery laws to protect reef species and habitats, increased
local coral reef management capacity, and established coral reef
protected areas.

	"The good news is that there are monitoring systems in place which will
continue to strengthen the cooperative governance and stewardship of our
coral ecosystems," said Timothy R.E. Keeney, deputy assistant secretary
for Oceans and Atmosphere and co-chair of the U.S. Coral Reef Task
Force.  "This is an excellent example of the Bush Administration's
shared conservation efforts which place a strong emphasis in enhancing
on-the-ground conservation results."

The 522-page report was coordinated by NOAA's Center for Coastal
Monitoring and Assessment in partnership with NOAA's Coral Reef
Conservation Program.  The majority of the information contained in the
report appears in the jurisdiction chapters. It includes contributions
from over 160 scientists and managers working as part of a growing coral
reef integrated observing system. 

The report details coral reef conditions in the U.S. Virgin Islands,
Puerto Rico, Navassa, Florida, the Flower Garden Banks, the Main
Hawaiian Islands, the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, American Samoa, the
Pacific Remote Island Areas, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the
Federated States of Micronesia, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana
Islands, Guam, and the Republic of Palau.
Data and other information derived from NOAA's coral reef monitoring and
assessment efforts are available at CoRIS, NOAA's Coral Reef Information
System Web site.  It provides a single point of access for aerial photos
of coastal areas, digital maps, navigational charts, photo mosaics,
monitoring reports, research papers and other items related to coral
reef ecosystems.

The NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program supports effective management
and sound science to preserve, sustain and restore valuable coral reef
ecosystems.  The CRCP is a partnership between NOAA Line Offices working
on coral reef issues, including the National Ocean Service, the National
Marine Fisheries Service, the Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research
and the National Environmental Satellites, Data and Information Service. 

The U.S. Coral Reef Task Force was established in 1998 to help lead U.S.
efforts to address the coral reef crisis. It includes the heads of 12
federal agencies; the governors of seven states territories and
commonwealths; and heads of the three Pacific Freely Associated States.
The task force is co-chaired by the Secretary of Commerce and the
Secretary of the Interior.  The first coral reef report was produced by
the National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science in 2002.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, an agency of the
U.S. Department of Commerce, is dedicated to enhancing economic security
and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and
climate-related events and providing environmental stewardship of our
nation's coastal and marine resources.  Through the emerging Global
Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS), NOAA is working with our
federal partners and nearly 60 countries to develop a global Earth
observation network that is as integrated as the planet it observes.

On the Web:
NOAA: http://www.noaa.gov/

NOAA's National Ocean Service: http://oceanservice.noaa.gov/

2005 State of U.S. and Associated Coral Reef Ecosystem Report: 

NOAA's Coral Reef Conservation Program: http://www.coralreef.noaa.gov

NOAA's Coral Reef Information System (CoRIS): http://coris.noaa.gov

GEOSS: http://www.noaa.gov/eos.html

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