U.S. flag An official website of the United States government.

dot gov icon Official websites use .gov

A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

https icon Secure websites use HTTPS

A small lock or https:// means you’ve safely connected to a .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Coral Reef Conservation Program

NOS Fiscal Year 2022: Year in Review

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 Co-Leads 45th U.S. Coral Reef Task Force Meeting


CRCP and NOAA co-led the 45th meeting of the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force in Kona, Hawaii. NOS Assistant Administrator Nicole LeBoeuf co-chaired the meeting, which highlighted working group steps to build partnerships, strategies, and support for on-the-ground action to conserve coral reefs. During the meeting, the Faga’alu Watershed in American Samoa was honored as the Watershed Partnership Initiative’s first graduate in 2022. Following 10 years of partnership, Faga’alu Watershed demonstrated ecological improvement and established local capacity to monitor and manage future land-based sources of pollution. Two recurring meeting themes were the power of federal, state, and local comanagement of coral reef ecosystems and the incorporation of traditional ecological knowledge into resource management. Multiple events, sessions, and talks highlighted Hawaiian Indigenous communities and their connections to coral reefs. The task force was established in 1998 by executive order to lead U.S. efforts to preserve and protect coral reef ecosystems and includes leaders of 13 federal agencies; seven U.S. states, territories, and commonwealths; and three freely associated states.

Two grants were issued in Fiscal Year 2022, both focusing on the spread of Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease in the Caribbean. One of the grants went to Nova Southeastern University and Florida Atlantic University’s Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute to treat diseased corals in the Dry Tortugas. The combined teams conducted a total of 265 dives covering an area larger than 146 football fields. A total of 6,038 corals were treated — more than doubling the total number of treated corals throughout the whole of Florida’s coral reef since intervention began in late 2018.

Four women at the task force meeting in Hawaii.

Staff from CRCP and the Department of the Interior gather for the 45th U.S. Coral Reef Task Force meeting in Hawaii, including CRCP Director Jennifer Koss (far left).

Collaborative Mariana Islands Mission on NOAA Ship Rainier


In 2022, NOAA completed a five-month expedition to the Mariana Islands on the NOAA Ship Rainier. This was the first NOAA mission to combine very different and historically separate projects — mapping/charting and coral reef ecosystem surveying. Known as RICHARD (Rainier Integrates Charting, Hydrography, and Reef Demographics), the mission was dedicated to, and in honor of, the late Admiral Richard Brennan, former director of the Office of Coast Survey. Rick had an inspiring vision for the future of the NOAA fleet and a forward-thinking, solutions-oriented approach to executing one-NOAA, multidisciplinary science. The mission would not have been possible without his leadership.

The cruise was a collaboration across NOS program offices and NOAA line offices. This exciting mission gathered information on corals, fish, and seawater in remote Pacific ecosystems and scanned the ocean floor using state-of-the-art technology to create seamless maps of the seafloor. The cruise produced high-quality data, products, and tools that benefit many applications, including habitat conservation, tsunami modeling, marine resource management, and even national security.

A close view of coral polyps.

A close-up of the stony coral Galaxea fascicularis.

NOAA Helps Hawaii Develop Herbivore Management Plan


NOAA’s Pacific Islands Managed and Protected Area Community provided technical assistance to the Hawaii Division of Aquatic Resources to develop a sustainable herbivore management plan. The plan identifies herbivores critical to reef resilience; helps determine whether or not a fish species’ status is sustainable, unsustainable, or lacks data; and recommends sustainable management strategies where needed. Feedback from public scoping meetings will help decision-makers add or revise regulations to promote sustainability and effective management of nearshore resources (both herbivores and coral reefs), ensuring that there are plenty of these fish now and for future generations. This plan contributes to all four pillars of the Holomua Marine 30x30 Initiative, one of five commitments of the Hawaii Sustainable Initiative.

ASeveral grey striped fish congregate in coral near the water’s surface.

Manini, or convict tangs, amongst finger coral in shallow water in Hawaii.

Coral Reef Watch Provides Advanced Warnings of Bleaching


Using models and satellite monitoring in near real time, NOAA’s Coral Reef Watch (CRW) provided advance warning of the mass bleaching event that followed the 2021-2022 severe heat stress event on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. CRW uses satellite, modeled, and in situ data to provide current reef environmental conditions to quickly identify areas at risk for mass coral bleaching. CRW collaborated directly with the Australian government and other key local stakeholders to coordinate information sharing between partners and to global media outlets. CRW is highly regarded by the global scientific research and management community for its scientific excellence and timely, open communication about changes in the marine environment that can impact coral reefs and the communities that rely on them.

A map of the Great Barrier Reef with colors indicating bleaching warnings and alerts.

NOAA Coral Reef Watch’s Daily Global 5km Satellite Bleaching Alert Area for Australia’s Great Barrier Reef uses an easy color-coded system to show heat stress and the risk of bleaching. This map shows the maximum heat stress experienced from December 1, 2021 to March 31, 2022.

NOAA Plays Critical Role in International Coral Work

ICRI logo

CRCP continues to represent NOAA in critical roles in international coral reef conservation and restoration efforts. At the United Nations Ocean Conference in Lisbon, Portugal, in June 2022, CRCP played a lead in more than a third of the 30 coral special events and sessions. CRCP and the Department of State represent the U.S. as chairs of the International Coral Reef Initiative (ICRI). CRCP also acts as vice chair of the Initiative Governance Committee within the Coral Research & Development Accelerator Platform. NOAA is co-chair to the advisory board for the Global Fund for Coral Reefs, with CRCP Director Jennifer Koss representing NOAA and the ICRI at these meetings. NOAA is committed to advancing coral reef conservation and restoration on a global scale by providing leadership across multiple platforms.