Coral reef ecosystems support the economy by providing billions of dollars in food, jobs, recreation, coastal protection, and other important services to people around the world. CRCP’s new strategic plan outlines refined strategies to reduce the impacts of climate change, fishing, and land-based sources of pollution on coral reefs. By 2040, CRCP hopes to help restore and preserve corals, maintain ecosystem function, and improve coral habitat, water quality, and key reef fishery species in target areas. The plan also provides updated business practices that identify partnerships and collaborations needed to improve coral conservation. NOAA will begin work with state management partners to develop regional plans that identify specific activities to meet conservation goals and address management needs.
CRCP released 2018 status reports for coral reef ecosystems within U.S. Pacific states and territories. The reports range from ratings of “good” in American Samoa and the Pacific Remote Islands National Monument area to “fair” in Guam, Hawaii, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. This snapshot of coral reef conditions highlights four factors measured from 2012 to 2017: 1) coral and algae; 2) fish; 3) climate; and 4) human connections. NOAA's National Coral Reef Monitoring Program developed the reports, which will inform efforts to monitor and manage coral reef health.
Coral reef ecosystems are extremely valuable — and severely threatened. Established management techniques are not sufficient for conserving corals in a changing climate. The NOAA-funded report, “A Decision Framework for Interventions to Increase the Persistence and Resilience of Coral Reefs,” focuses on a variety of intervention techniques to help communities conserve these threatened resources. The report includes a process managers can use to help them decide which management techniques are right for them, a risk-benefit analysis, and a case study focused on the Caribbean. NOAA and its partners will incorporate the findings into future coral restoration efforts.
Saving the world’s coral reefs requires a multi-pronged approach. Active and targeted coral re-population with novel interventions provide coral reef ecosystems with time to recover from local threats, such as unsustainable fishing and land-based pollution, as well as the global-level stress of climate change. This year, NOAA was a sponsor of Reef Futures 2018, which provided a forum in Key Largo, Florida, for over 550 experts from nearly 40 countries to share the latest science and techniques for coral reef restoration. Highlights from the conference included workshops on the use of satellites and drones for monitoring, a workshop for local and international teenagers to learn about coral restoration, and the announcement of “Saving Coral Reefs” as the next XPrize competition.
Stony coral tissue loss disease has been affecting the Florida Reef Tract since 2014 and is now spreading across the Caribbean region. The disease has been observed in Mexico, Jamaica, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Belize, and other locations. Marine resource managers from 16 Caribbean countries and territories gathered in Key West, Florida, to learn how the disease has affected reefs in Florida and discuss ways to monitor and treat it. Attendees also shared firsthand information and experiences. The learning exchange was facilitated by MPA Connect — a partnership between the Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries Institute and NOAA’s CRCP — and was funded by CRCP and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.