Roger B Griffis Roger.B.Griffis at noaa.gov
Sat Oct 1 10:25:30 EDT 2005

September 28, 2005
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) 05-123

Contact: Ben Sherman, NOAA Public Affairs
(301) 713-3066, Ext. 178


The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and U.S. Coral Reef
Task Force partners are improving coral reef conservation efforts from
federal to local levels according to a new report released today.

The report, “Implementation of the National Coral Reef Action Strategy:
Report on U.S. Coral Reef Agency Activities from 2002 to 2003”
highlights the activities of USCRTF members and partners in 2002 –2003
under each of 13 national conservation goals defined by the 2002 U.S.
National Coral Reef Action Strategy.  The report also charts annual
funding by federal agencies for activities directly related to
implementation of the strategy, and presents an analysis of the future
challenges facing coral reef ecosystems and the communities that depend
on them.

“This report demonstrates the power of focused, collaborative efforts to
better understand and manage our valuable ocean and coastal ecosystems,”
said retired Navy Vice Admiral Conrad C. Lautenbacher, Jr., Ph.D., under
secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator.
“By increasing individual and integrated efforts, U.S. Coral Reef Task
Force organizations are producing on-the ground results that reduce
threats to reefs and promote cooperative conservation of reef

The report indicates that collective research and management actions are
moving in the right direction.  New coral reef monitoring activities are
now being conducted in all 14 jurisdictions throughout U.S. waters
yielding important data about water quality, corals, fish and other
species that depend on coral ecosystems.

Efforts to produce comprehensive digital maps of all shallow coral reef
ecosystems by 2009 are well underway.  U.S. shallow coral reef
ecosystems mapped and characterized increased from 35 to 66 percent
(9,598 square kilometers) from 2002 to 2004.

The U.S. National Coral Reef Action Strategy also calls for improving
the use of coral reef protected areas and other tools for effective
coral reef conservation.  Fourteen new coral reef-protected areas were
established in federal waters and several jurisdictions, including the
U.S. Virgin Islands, Hawai’i, Puerto Rico, Florida, and American Samoa.

USCRTF partners created new protected area management plans and
increased local management capacity for enforcement and education
efforts.  NOAA, working with state and territory partners, is leading
the first comprehensive, nationwide inventory and assessment of all U.S.
coral reef protected areas to identify key needs and solutions.

Since 2002, five of the seven U.S. states or territories with coral
reefs have instituted new or revised fishery regulations to help restore
and sustain coral reef fisheries.  NOAA, the United States Geological
Survey, and academic partners are also mapping priority moderate-depth
coral reef ecosystems identified by regional fishery management councils
as important habitat for many commercial fish species.

To translate national priorities into locally-driven roadmaps for
cooperative conservation, each of the seven states and territory members
of the USCRTF developed three-year local action strategies.  These local
action strategies prioritize actions needed by federal, state,
territory, and nongovernmental partners to reduce key threats to reefs,
and were developed with the input of hundreds of stakeholders.  In
recognition of the importance of this participatory planning and
management process, the President’s Ocean Action Plan called for $2.7
million in new NOAA funding to support implementation of the local

Although NOAA and USCRTF members and partners made significant progress
on all 13 goals in 2002 and 2003, the report indicates that additional
efforts are needed to reduce the serious threats to reefs and rebuild
healthy, resilient coral reef ecosystems.

“By leveraging funds and resources, exchanging ideas, and seizing
opportunities, we have begun the long process of reducing threats to
reefs and conserving healthy, resilient coral reef ecosystems and the
human communities that depend on them,” said Timothy R. E. Keeney,
deputy assistant secretary for oceans and atmosphere and U.S. Coral Reef
Task Force co-chair.

“The information in this report, and in the recently-released “State of
the Reefs” report, provides clear evidence to Congress and the public
that we are making progress in conserving our coral reefs,” stated Craig
Manson, assistant Secretary of the Interior for Fish and Wildlife and
Parks and co-chair of the Coral Reef Task Force.  “This is particularly
impressive since results of our largest initiative, the Local Action
Strategies, are too recent to be included here.  Future reports will
show that this cooperative, locally-based effort is generating even
greater progress.”

The report was compiled by NOAA’s Coral Reef Conservation Program with
input and assistance from the federal, state and territory members of
the USCRTF.  The NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program (CRCP) supports
effective management and sound science to preserve, sustain and restore
valuable coral reef ecosystems.  The CRCP is a partnership between NOAA
offices working on coral reef issues, including the National Ocean
Service, NOAA Fisheries, NOAA Research and NOAA Satellites and
Information Service.

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/
To access the full Report: http://www.coris.noaa.gov/
NOAA’s Coral Reef Conservation Program: http://www.coralreef.noaa.gov/
U.S. Coral Reef Task Force: http://www.coralreef.gov/

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