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International Year of the Reef

A yearlong designation to highlight the importance of coral reefs.

2018 is the third International Year of the Reef—a platform to highlight the importance of coral reefs. Covering less than one percent of the planet, coral reefs are the home to 25 percent of marine species and supply food to millions of people. They are also vital to our ocean economy, providing billions of dollars in services, such coastal protection, jobs, tourism and more.

Coral reefs face many threats, including warmer and more acidic ocean waters, impacts from destructive fishing practices and pollution from the land. NOAA’s Coral Reef Conservation Program is working with communities to tackle these issues. Our collective efforts are yielding powerful results. Here are just a few.

  • Scientists recently teamed with local groups and special operations veterans to assess and begin restoration efforts on coral areas damaged by the recent hurricanes in Florida, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.
  • In Maui, the community came together to protect herbivorous fish that help control algae growth. After several years, algal cover is down and the numbers of corals and fish are up.
  • Elsewhere, volunteers are installing rain gardens and revegetating hillsides with native plants to reduce sediment and pollutants from reaching the sea.

This week, NOAA is co-chairing the 39th U.S Coral Reef Task Force meeting in Washington, DC, with the U.S. Department of the Interior.  The task force brings together scientists, decision makers and community members from coral reef areas stretching from the U.S. Virgin Islands to Palau to discuss key issues, including International Year of the Reef.

For more information, visit our 2018 International Year of the Reef portal portal on this website.

Jennifer Koss 
Director, NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program