Title: Coral Reef Conservation Program : summary of accomplishments
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Title: Coral Reef Conservation Program : summary of accomplishments
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Language: English
Creator: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Publisher: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Place of Publication: Silver Spring, Md.
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Bibliographic ID: CA01300933
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of the Virgin Islands
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CORAL REEF CONSERVATION PROGRAM

NATIONAL OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATION

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE





















SUMMARY OF 2003 ACCOMPLISHMENTS


Coral reefs are among the most biologically productive and diverse ecosystems in the
world. Healthy coral reefs provide income and food by supporting commercial and
subsistence fisheries, as well as jobs and businesses through tourism and recreation. They
also save lives as an important source of new medicines being developed to treat cancer,
arthritis and infections. Not only are coral reef structures areas of natural beauty and
recreation, they are also natural barriers that buffer shorelines from wave action, storms
and floods and help protect coastal communities.

The NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program supports effective management and sound
science to preserve, sustain and restore valuable coral reef ecosystems. To successfully
accomplish these goals and to reduce the loss and degradation of coral reef ecosystems,
the program works with scientific, private, government and non-government partners,
from local to international scales.






Department of Commerce National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program
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In FY2003, the NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program (CRCP) supported a wide variety of activities to
conserve and manage coral reef ecosystems. These activities address priorities and requirements identified by the
U.S. National Action Plan to Conserve Coral Reefs, the U.S. National Coral Reef Action Strategy, the U.S. Coral
Reef Task Force, the Coral Reef Protection Executive Order (13089), and the Coral Reef Conservation Act of
2000. The following are highlights of some of the CRCP's significant accomplishments in fiscal year 2003.


Map Coral Reefs
Coral reef maps provide important information about
the extent and structure of coral reef ecosystems.
These types of maps are a critical aspect of
effectively managing coastal resources, designing
research activities, identifying essential fish habitat,
conducting damage assessments, tracking status and
trends, and evaluating results of management efforts.
NOAA and its partners are applying a variety of
technologies to map all U.S. shallow water coral reef
ecosystems and associated deeper reefs. The
National Coral Reef Action Strategy (NAS) calls for
the completion of shallow water coral reef mapping
by 2009. To work towards this goal, NOAA:


* Released the Atlas of the N/ // in' Water Benthic
Habitats of the Northwestern Hawaiian
Islands-Draft, which provides baseline
information on the locations and distributions of
the shallow-water (<100 ft.) reefs and other
seabed features of the Northwestern Hawaiian
Islands (NWHI).
* Conducted the first systematic multibeam sonar
mapping of deeper reefs and habitats of the
NWHI and compiled initial results in the
Bathymetric Atlas of the Northwestern Hawaiian
Islands: A Planning Document for Benthic
Habitat Mapping to be published in FY2004.
(http://crei.nmfs.hawaii.edu/BathvAtlas/)
* Conducted shallow to moderate depth acoustic
mapping of reefs around Midway Atoll, Saipan,
Tinian, Rota, and Guam utilizing the multibeam
on the new survey launch R/VAHI.
* Prepared draft maps of shallow-water reefs and
associated habitats of American Samoa and
Saipan. Final benthic habitat maps of American
Samoa, Guam, and CNMI are expected in 2004.


* Mapped and characterized key tracts in the
Oculina Banks Habitat Area of Particular
Concern off the coast of Florida to a depth of
150 meters, mapping of the remaining areas is
scheduled for 2004.
* Developed a quantitative measure ("acoustic
complexity index") for classifying Atlantic coral
reef habitat characteristics (at moderate depths
greater than 20 meters) that are of importance to
commercially valuable reef fishes.


Monitor and Assess Reef Condition
Monitoring allows managers to assess reef
conditions, diagnose reef problems, prioritize and
implement solutions, evaluate the results of
management decisions, and forecast future
conditions. The NAS calls for an integrated,
nationwide coral reef monitoring system to profile
and track the health of U.S. coral reefs ecosystems.
This system will be used to measure the effectiveness
of management actions. NOAA completed a number
of actions to enhance monitoring and assessment of
U.S. coral reef resources. NOAA:


Department of Commerce National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program
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* Led the first major scientific coral reef
assessment and monitoring cruise to the CNMI
and Guam. In partnership with local managers
and scientists, NOAA surveyed many remote
islands and banks for the first time, revealing
numerous new species records for the region and
observing the influence of recent volcanic
activity on coral reef ecosystems at Anatahan
Island.
* Led the 4th annual multi-agency coral reef
assessment and monitoring cruise to the NWHI,
which, among other findings, documented
damage to reef ecosystems from the 2002
bleaching event.
* Strengthened and expanded the National Coral
Reef Monitoring Program through enhanced
partnerships with States, Territories, and other
Federal agencies. Preparations are underway for
the 2nd report on the State of U.S. Coral Reefs.
* Completed a major assessment of reef fish
resources and reef habitat off Broward County,
Florida, establishing baselines and trends.
Exploitable sized snapper and grouper species
were depleted in this area.
* Prepared and distributed a technical report
describing the baseline assessment of Navassa
Island's reef resources including the
composition and condition of local benthic
habitat and fish assemblages.


Photo Credit: Stephanie Holzwarth.


Conducted regular monitoring cruises in the


which can lead to more efficient management
counter measures.
* Enhanced NOAA's Coral Reef Watch Program
that combines in situ and satellite monitoring to
provide real-time meteorological and
oceanographic data on coral reef bleaching and
other coral reef conditions. One additional early
warning in situ station was deployed in the
Caribbean and one in the Pacific. Coral Reef
Watch's Degree Heating Weeks and Tropical
Ocean Coral Bleaching Indices are now fully
operational and available online at: http://orbit-
net.nesdis.noaa.gov/orad/coral bleaching index.
html.


Conduct Strategic Research
Research is critical to understanding how coral reef
ecosystems function, how human activities impact
reef processes, and how managers and the public can
reduce or eliminate these impacts, reduce threats and
sustain healthy coral reef ecosystems. The NAS
calls for strategic research to help identify the
causes, consequences and solutions to coral reef
decline. Strategic research includes understanding
social and economic factors necessary for effective
conservation of coral reef ecosystems. NOAA:


* Supported the Hawai'i Coral Reef Initiative
Research Program, the National Coral Reef
Institute (Florida), and the Puerto Rico Coral
Reef Monitoring Program, which are leading
coral reef research efforts in these jurisdictions.
* The Coral Disease and Health Consortium
developed a Coral Health and Disease National
Research Plan that identifies gaps, information
needs, priorities and research objectives to
improve our understanding of diseases and
develop strategies to mitigate their impacts. The
Consortium also successfully mobilized and
coordinated research efforts in response to the
May 2003 coral infectious disease outbreak in
the Florida Keys.


Florida Keys enabling scientists to identity early
signs of specific threats such as coral diseases,
Department of Commerce National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program
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* Determined factors that may control the
populations of coral-feeding gastropods.
Predation by these snails is a contributing factor
to coral decline in Florida.
* Completed the Proceedings of the Acropora
Workshop that summarizes the biology, status,
trends, and management of two Caribbean coral
candidates for listing under the Endangered
Species Act.
* Continued targeted research in Florida, the U.S.
Caribbean and Hawai'i, to determine and
quantify the impact of land-based sources of
pollution, overfishing, and commercial and
recreational activities on coral reef ecosystems.
* Provided coral reef resource valuation
information to coastal and coral reef resource
managers.
* Provided funding and technical assistance to
American Samoa in order to assess the economic
importance of local coral reef and coastal
resources.
* Conducted consultations with local fishers in
USVI and Puerto Rico and laid the foundation
for resource managers to better understand the
socioeconomic issues to be addressed when
establishing marine protected areas.


Photo Credit: Andy Bruckner.


Improve the Use of Marine Protected Areas
Coral reef protected areas can safeguard these unique
and important resources by protecting important
habitats, such as those in the Northwestern Hawaiian
Islands. In 2000, the National Action Plan proposed
the development of a network of coral reef marine


protected areas in U.S waters. NOAA works with
stakeholders to strengthen the effectiveness of
existing protected areas. In an effort to improve coral
reef protected areas, NOAA:


* Provided assistance in developing a Management
Plan for the Natural Reserve in Culebra, Puerto
Rico.
* Provided research to support the Gulf of Mexico
Fishery Management Council's proposed six-
year extension of the marine reserves at
Madison-Swanson and Steamboat Lumps to
protect spawning aggregations of gag grouper.
* Provided assistance to assess the status of coral
reef protection in U.S. waters. This information
will be used in the 2004 "Coral Reef Protected
Area Status Report" for the U.S. States and
Territories.
* Continued to support operations and sanctuary
designation process for the Northwest Hawaiian
Islands Coral Reef Ecosystem Reserve. Reserve
managers prioritized key issues from the
FY2002 public scoping process and held a
broad-based science workshop to identify and
prioritize research and monitoring needs.


Reduce Adverse Impacts of Fishing
Overfishing is one of the most common threats to
coral reef ecosystems worldwide. NOAA strives to
increase stakeholder awareness and participation in
fishery management and to strengthen permitting
and enforcement of current regulations. The NAS
calls for reducing adverse impacts of fishing and
increasing sustainable management of coral reef
fisheries through improved scientific information,
coordination, enforcement and management
approaches. To work towards these goals NOAA:


* Supported workshops for Puerto Rico's Ranger
Corps to educate the Rangers about the
importance of coral reef ecosystems, proper fish
identification and the existing regulations related


Department of Commerce National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program
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to fishing and coral reef ecosystem protection,
ultimately improving local enforcement efforts.
* Supported two coral reef fishery management
workshops for the Pacific Islands, one in Guam
and one in Hawai'i. The workshops highlighted
needs for increasing enforcement capacity and
continuing to build stakeholder involvement into
management activities.
* Provided for a NOAA Fisheries liaison in
American Samoa to provide technical expertise
to enhance local coral reef management efforts.
* Conducted an interdisciplinary study of trap
fishing in Puerto Rico and USVI to support the
development of appropriate management
measures to address overfishing and trap impacts
on habitat. In both jurisdictions, fishers mainly
target areas adjacent to reefs (sand, seagrass,
hard-bottom, and algal habitats).
* Conducted studies to increase the understanding
of larval transport of fisheries species from coral
reef reserves in the NWHI, American Samoa,
Guam and CNMI.


Reduce Impacts of Coastal Uses
Coastal uses, such as recreational boating, beach re-
nourishment, and laying new pipelines or cables, can
have negative impacts coral reef ecosystems. For
example, vessel groundings can cause injury to the
coral reef ecosystems by destroying habitat, releasing
pollutants, and entrapping wildlife. The NAS calls
for initiation of actions to reduce the impacts of
vessel groundings, development and other coastal
uses. NOAA supports activities that enable States
and Territories to respond to and reduce the habitat
destruction. NOAA:


* Continued to assess and build local capacity to
manage abandoned vessel issues through legal
and technical assistance.
* Enhanced the database of abandoned vessels
affecting NOAA trust resources through ground
surveys in the Pacific Islands. The database will
form the basis of a coordinated strategy to


address the array of threats posed by grounded
vessels.
* Assisted in installation of mooring buoys and
signage within USVI reserves.


Reduce Pollution
Both land-based and sea-based pollution can cause
coral reef loss and degradation by increasing the
amount of sediments and nutrients in the water
column or by increased debris. To improve the
health of the Nation's coral reef ecosystems, the
concentration and cumulative impacts of pollutants
need to be reduced. The NAS calls for action to
reduce the quantity of sediments, nutrients, debris,
biological, and other pollutants entering coral reef
ecosystems and mitigate their impacts to the
ecosystem. NOAA:


* Collaborated with the State of Hawai'i, U.S.
Fish and Wildlife Service, and numerous other
partners, to remove 122 tons of derelict fishing
gear from NWHI reefs, bringing the multi-year
total to over 351 tons. NOAA also assesses and
monitors marine debris accumulation, identifies
potential source fisheries, evaluates the impacts
of this derelict gear on coral reefs and protected
species, and enhances public awareness about
the derelict gear affecting these remote islands
and atolls.


Photo Credit: Jeremy Jones.


* Completed and reviewed draft Environmental
Sensitivity Index Maps for American Samoa.


Department of Commerce National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program
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These maps are key to assessing the potential
impact of oil spills and hazardous material
releases, and guide the implementation of
effective protective measures and mitigation
responses.
* Initiated effort to support the implementation of
priority local projects to reduce land-based
pollution impacts to coral reef ecosystems.


Restore Damaged Reefs
At times, active restoration is needed to help prevent
further degradation or enhance the natural
restoration process in injured or damaged coral reef
habitats. The NAS calls for increased capability of
managers to effectively and efficiently restore
injured or degraded coral reefs where appropriate.
The NOAA CRCP supports activities that assess and
restore damaged coral reef areas. NOAA:


* Assessed seagrass habitat damage in the Florida
Keys National Marine Sanctuary, caused
primarily by small vessels, and supported
restoration of these habitats, which are essential
to the health of the entire coral reef ecosystem.
Implemented the first of these types of
restoration projects and laid groundwork for
implementing many more.
* Developed technical guidance for evaluating
coral reef restoration success and introduced a
convergence prediction model to estimate the
time required for restored sites to resemble
undamaged reference sites.
* Monitored and assessed coral and reef fish
recovery at coral restoration sites in Puerto Rico
and Florida.
* Determined that predation continues to limit the
re-introduction of the black sea urchin (a
beneficial algal grazer that encourages the
recovery of damaged reefs) at specific sites in
Florida.





Department of Commerce National Oceanic and Atmos


Reduce Global Threats
Throughout the world, coral reefs are threatened
directly and indirectly by a number of natural and
anthropogenic stresses such as increased storm
activities, coral bleaching and mortality, resource
extraction, and coastal development. Healthy coral
reefs are critical to U.S. efforts to promote economic
stability, to improve human health, and to conserve
biodiversity in other countries. The NAS calls for
U.S. action to reduce threats to coral reef ecosystems
internationally and promote sustainable management
of reef resources worldwide. NOAA:


* Developed and submitted a successful
Convention on International Trade in Endangered
Species (CITES) Appendix II listing proposal for
all species of seahorses, which will be
implemented beginning in May 2004.
* Worked with CITES parties to improve reporting
requirements for corals and to address
conservation needs of other coral reef species in
international trade.


Partnered with Environmental Protection Agency
and the Department of Interior to sponsor an
international workshop on Coral Reefs, Climate
(h:,gc and Coral Bleaching and began
development of a Reef Manager's Guide to
Climate C h igi.
Worked with national and international partners
to develop regional, long-term socio-economic
monitoring programs for coral reef managers and
pheric Administration NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program
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establish a network of marine reserve experts and
regional action plans in the Caribbean and
Southeast Asia.
* Worked with partners to demonstrate the
effectiveness of best management practices to
reduce and control land-based sources of
pollution.


Improve Outreach and Education
A key element of coral reef protection is a strong
outreach effort to inform the public about the value
of coral reef ecosystems and how to minimize
impacts to them. Effective outreach requires reliable
access to and efficient sharing of information with
all stakeholders. The NAS calls for increased
awareness and understanding of ecological, cultural,
and socioeconomic importance of coral reef
ecosystems among the widest possible audience. To
aide in these efforts NOAA:


* Launched the Coral Literature Education and
Outreach (www.coral.noaa.gov/cleo/) website as
a source of literature resources, educational
modules, and outreach information.
* Continued to enhance the Coral Reef
Information System (www.coris.noaa. gov/)
website by working with stakeholders to refine
usability of the system. CoRIS now provides
online access to over 8,000 coral reef data
products and an extensive number of coral reef
references and publications.
* Initiated production of bilingual outreach
materials for use in Puerto Rico and the USVI
and continued the NOAA Fisheries' workshop
series in the U.S. Caribbean.
* Released new Spanish language videos on coral
reef ecosystems in Puerto Rico, and released a
Spanish Atlas of coral reefs in Cabo Rojo,
Puerto Rico.
* Continued to Chair and support the activities of
the US Coral Reef Task Force Education and
Outreach Working Group. This support included
significant efforts to increase outreach to and


coordination with local coral reef stakeholders
during the Task Force meetings, as well as
intensified efforts to foster Working Group
participation across all sectors and stakeholder
groups.
* Served as a primary partner in the funding and
design of educational exhibits developed in
conjunction with MacGillivray Freeman's Coral
Reef Adventure IMAX film.
* Continued to share information on coral reef
conservation through brochures, exhibits, and
participation in educational conferences and
workshops that build on NOAA resources and
activities.


State and Territory Management Capacity
Building
The States and Territories have indicated that
targeted technical assistance will help them address
nine of the top ten threats to coral reef ecosystems
including tourism and recreational overuse,
overfishing, and land-based pollution. In an effort to
help build capacity at the local level NOAA:


* Initiated the State and Territory Coral
Management Assistantship program to address
priority local coral management capacity needs
in U.S. Flag Pacific and Caribbean Islands.


Photo Credit: Brian Zgliczynski.
* Supported the All Islands Coral Reef Secretariat
to interface with Federal agencies and other


Department of Commerce National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program
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partners regarding All Islands priorities and to
assist with planning.
* Provided support to assist in the development of
three-year local action strategies to address key
threats including overfishing, lack of awareness,
recreational overuse, land based sources of
pollution, climate change, and disease.

Coral Reef Conservation Fund
The partnerships created through the Coral Reef
Conservation Fund (a partnership between NOAA
and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation) are
important for on-the-ground conservation of coral
reefs throughout the world. Through the
partnerships, grant recipients are able to generate
substantial matching funds for the conservation of
coral reefs.


* Through NFWF, this Fund awarded grants to 26
applicants. The program uses Federal funds to
leverage non-Federal resources for coral reef
conservation initiatives. (In 2003, $0.89 M in
NOAA funds leveraged $1.7 M in non-Federal
matching funds for a total of $2.59 M.)
*


Photo Credit: Andy Bruckner


Coral Reef Conservation Grant Program
The Coral Reef Conservation Act of 2000 requires
that NOAA establish and administer the Coral Reef
Conservation Grant Program as part of a national
effort to conserve coral reefs. This program is
supported in part by the Department of Interior and
provides grants to U.S. State and Territory
governments, Regional Fishery Management
Councils, non-government agencies (NGO), and
academia for local on-the-ground work. In FY2003
$5.5 million in NOAA/DOI funds leveraged more
than $1.9 million in matching funds. NOAA
continued to build the Coral Reef Conservation
Grant Program and:


* Supported State and Territory efforts to develop
and implement priority local coral reef
management projects.
* Strengthened grant-funded State and Territory
monitoring, including increased support for the
Freely Associated States in Micronesia.
* Implemented a new competitive research grants
program, in partnership with National Undersea
Research Program and the Environmental
Protection Agency.
* Supported coral reef conservation actions by
Regional Fishery Management Councils in the
South Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean, and
Western Pacific, including increased outreach by
Councils for collaborative projects with States
and Territories.
* Provided matching funding for innovative coral
reef conservation projects by academic
institutions, NGOs and other partners.
* Funded international projects in support of
watershed management, effectiveness of coral
reef MPAs, regional approaches to further marine
reserves, and socioeconomic monitoring.


Department of Commerce National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program
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NOCONSERVATI reeOIR
( ONSERVAT10 N I'RO (;AM


February 2004


Photo Credits: Unless otherwise noted, all photos are from the NOAA Photo Library (www.photolib.noaa. 2ov/reef/).

Department of Commerce National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program
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Additional information on NOAA's Coral Reef Conservation
Program and other NOAA coral reef activities can be found on
NOAA's Coral Reef Information System at www.coris.noaa. gov.


For current news and highlights of NOAA's coral reef activities, visit
NOAA's Coral Reef online at www.coralreef.noaa.gov.


NOAA Contacts:
David Kennedy, Manager, NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program
NOAA's National Ocean Service, Office of Response and
Restoration
Phone: 301-713-2989
E-mail: coralreef(inoaa.gov


NOAA Coral Reef Senior Management Council:
David Kennedy (National Ocean Service);
Rolland Schmitten (National Marine Fisheries Service);
Barbara Moore (Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research); and
Eric Bayler (National Environmental Satellite, Data and Information




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