NOAA’s Coral Reef Conservation Program (CRCP) was established in 2000 by the Coral Reef Conservation Act to protect, conserve, and restore the nation's coral reefs by maintaining healthy ecosystem function.
NOAA awarded nearly $1,000,000 through the new Ruth Gates Coral Restoration Innovation Grants competition. The funding was awarded in response to the National Academies of Sciences study “Interventions to Increase the Resilience of Coral Reefs.” The competition is an opportunity for NOAA to leverage resources and establish collaborative partnerships to develop novel coral restoration and intervention methods to restore resilient coral ecosystems. This competition is a tribute to the work and life of Dr. Ruth Gates and aims to build on her efforts to address the decline in coral reef health through innovative science and research. The Coral Reef Conservation Program (CRCP) and NOAA Fisheries collaboratively held and funded the Ruth Gates Coral Restoration Innovation Grants competition.
CRCP released 2020 status reports for coral reef ecosystems for the U.S. Atlantic, Caribbean, and Gulf of Mexico jurisdictions, as mandated by the Coral Reef Conservation Act of 2000. The reports range from ratings of “Good” in Flower Garden Banks, to “Fair” in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, to “Impaired” in Florida. This snapshot of coral reef condition highlights four factors measured from 2012 to 2018: coral and algae; fish; climate; and human connections. NOAA’s National Coral Reef Monitoring Program developed the reports, which will inform conversations around coral reef management and conservation. They join status reports released in December 2018 for American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, Hawaii, and the Pacific Remote Islands.
CRCP published a programmatic environmental impact statement in the Federal Register. The purpose of the impact statement is to analyze the potential environmental impacts of the Program’s activities, including grant projects that fund critical reef preservation and restoration activities that are vital to the long-term health of the ocean and its ecosystem. The impact statement will make program compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act and other environmental statutes more efficient. A benefit of more efficient compliance is a common set of best management practices used across the program for related activities and a reduced workload for the program’s NOAA partners.
The Coral Reef Conservation Act was signed into law on December 23, 2000, establishing the NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program. For 20 years, the Program has brought together expertise from across NOAA and its partners to protect, conserve, and restore the nation’s coral reef ecosystems. The Program works with state and territorial governments, academic institutions, non-governmental organizations, and community groups to address local issues that affect coral reef ecosystems. The Program’s work continues to be of great importance due to the services that coral reef ecosystems provide. They support recreational fishing and diving, commercial fishing, pharmaceutical research, and provide protection from waves and flooding. The year-long celebration multimedia communications channels to raise awareness about the program’s work and accomplishments.