[Coral-List] Announcement: Release of new report "A Reef Manager's Guide to Coral Bleaching"

Roger B. Griffis Roger.B.Griffis at noaa.gov
Wed Oct 11 13:07:48 EDT 2006

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE (see www.noaa.gov)
October 11, 2006
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) NOAA06

Kent Laborde, NOAA Public Affairs
(202) 482-5757


Innovative strategies to conserve the world’s coral reefs are included 
in a new guide released today by NOAA, the Australian Great Barrier Reef 
Marine Park Authority and The World Conservation Union (IUCN). “A Reef 
Manager’s Guide to Coral Bleaching” will provide coral reef managers 
with the latest scientific information on the causes of coral bleaching 
and new management strategies for responding to this significant threat 
to coral reef ecosystems.

“Coral reef managers can play a critical role in helping reefs survive 
coral bleaching events,” said retired Navy Vice Adm. Conrad 
Lautenbacher, Ph.D., undersecretary of commerce for oceans and 
atmosphere and NOAA administrator. “The reef manager’s guide lays out 
key actions managers can take before, during and after bleaching events 
to help reduce impacts of bleaching and promote resilience of the reef 
ecosystem to help it recover from severe bleaching events.”

“The Australian Government is proud to share its expertise with reef 
managers worldwide in this highly anticipated publication. Australia is 
at the forefront of developing new strategies and tools to respond to 
mass bleaching events, minimize impacts and build long-term coral reef 
resilience to climate change,” said Andrew Skeat, Great Barrier Reef 
Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) executive director.

The reef manager’s guide, developed in partnership with the U.S. 
Environmental Protection Agency, The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and other 
organizations, grew out of a 2002 resolution by the U.S. Coral Reef Task 
Force calling for development of information and tools for coral reef 
managers to address threats from coral bleaching. The reef manager’s 
guide can be found online at www.coralreef.noaa.gov and includes 
contributions from over 50 experts in coral bleaching and coral reef 

“By implementing actions suggested in the guide, coral reef managers are 
in a unique position to increase our understanding of the phenomenon of 
coral bleaching, to take meaningful action during a bleaching event, and 
to develop strategies to support the natural resilience of reefs in the 
face of long-term changes in climate,” said David Kennedy, manager of 
NOAA’s Coral Reef Conservation Program, which helped produce the guide.

The reef manager’s guide reviews management actions that can help 
restore and maintain resilience of coral reef ecosystems. This review 
draws on a growing body of research on ways to support the ability of 
coral reef ecosystems to survive and recover from bleaching events. The 
reef manager’s guide includes specific guidance and case studies on how 
to prepare bleaching response plans, assess impacts from bleaching, 
engage the public, manage activities that may impact reefs during 
bleaching events, identify resilient reef areas, and incorporate 
information regarding reef resilience into marine protected area design.

The reef manager’s guide also supports a major goal of the U.S. 
Administration’s Climate Change Science Program – to “Understand the 
sensitivity and adaptability of different natural and managed ecosystems 
and human systems to climate and related global changes” – by providing 
managers with options for sustaining and improving ecological systems 
and related goods and services, given projected global changes.

The guide identifies three key actions reef managers can take to help 
reefs survive and recover from mass bleaching events: (1) increase 
observations of reef condition before, during and after bleaching to 
increase information and understanding of impacts and areas that may be 
especially resistant to bleaching, (2) reduce stressors (e.g., 
pollution, human use) on reefs during severe bleaching events to help 
corals survive the event, and (3) design and implement reef management 
strategies to support reef recovery and resilience, including reducing 
land-based pollution and protecting coral areas that may resist 
bleaching and serve as sources of coral larvae for “reseeding” reefs.

Coral bleaching is associated with a variety of stresses including 
increased sea surface temperatures. This causes the coral to expel 
microscopic algae living in their tissues – algae that provide corals 
with food. Losing their algae leaves coral tissues devoid of color and 
thus appearing to be bleached. Prolonged coral bleaching (over a week) 
can lead to coral death and the subsequent loss of coral reef habitats 
and the vital services they provide to coastal communities including 
food, jobs and income, as well as protection from the impact of storms.

Mass coral bleaching events have increased in frequency and intensity 
since the first recorded event in 1982, resulting in significant coral 
mortality and other ecological, social and economic impacts in many reef 
ecosystems. In 1997-98, mass bleaching is estimated to have caused over 
90 percent coral mortality in many reefs in the Indian and Pacific 
oceans, destroying 16 percent of the world’s coral reefs. These 
increases in coral bleaching over the past two decades have been 
attributed to ocean warming seen in tropical waters around the world. In 
2005, Caribbean coral reefs experienced massive coral bleaching followed 
by coral disease outbreaks and high levels of coral mortality throughout 
the region. This was the most widespread and severe bleaching ever 
reported in the Caribbean Sea.

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority is the principal advisor to 
the Australian Government, through the Minister for the Environment and 
Heritage, on the care, development and management of the Great Barrier 
Reef Marine Park. The Authority works in partnership with other 
government agencies, industry, community groups and individuals to help 
preserve the social, economic and environmental values of the Great 
Barrier Reef.

The World Conservation Union strives to achieve significant improvement 
in the conservation of marine biodiversity and sustainable use of 
natural resources in marine and coastal ecosystems throughout the world.

In 2007 the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, an agency 
of the U.S. Commerce Department, celebrates 200 years of science and 
service to the nation. From the establishment of the Survey of the Coast 
in 1807 by Thomas Jefferson to the formation of the Weather Bureau and 
the Bureau of Commercial Fisheries in the 1870s, much of America's 
scientific heritage is rooted in NOAA.

NOAA is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety 
through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related 
events and information service delivery for transportation, and by 
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 its federal partners, more than 60 
countries and the European Commission to develop a global monitoring 
network that is as integrated as the planet it observes, predicts and 

On the web:
Reef Manager’s Guide to Coral Bleaching: http://www.coralreef.noaa.gov
NOAA: http://www.noaa.gov/
Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority: http://www.gbrmpa.gov.au/
The World Conservation Union: http://iucn.org/themes/marine/


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