Featured Coral Publications

Below is a sampling of publications generated by NOAA's coral ecosystem activities. Visit the Featured Archive to see a past list of highlighted publications. To access a complete list of NOAA coral ecosystem related publications, use the CoRIS Geoportal ( search tool.

Characterizing Participation in Non-Commercial Fishing and other Shore-based Recreational Activities on St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands

This study characterizes the community of shore-based, non-commercial fishers on the island of St. Croix, USVI in terms of their fishing patterns over space and time and to the extent possible, their demographic and socioeconomic characteristics. The results and lessons learned from this study can inform future survey efforts of non-commercial fishers in the USVI.

Shallow-Water Benthic Habitats of Northeast Puerto Rico and Culebra Island

This report describes the development and assessment of shallow-water (<35 m) benthic habitat maps for Northeast Puerto Rico and Culebra Island. The objective of this effort, conducted by NOAA's National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science (NCCOS) in partnership with the Departamento de Recursos Naturales y Ambientales (DRNA), was to provide spatially-explicit information describing the benthic habitat types and live coral cover present in and around the Northeast Reserves, a region selected by local managers as a priority area. The habitat map, generated using a combination of semi-automated classification and visual interpretation techniques, represent the first digital maps that describe nearly 100% of the seafloor in the area. The effort also marks the first time a high resolution satellite mosaic representing the seafloor has been provided for the full extent of this location, as well as a multi-resolution depth model combining all available hydrographic data in the region.

Global Socioeconomic Monitoring Initiative for Coastal Management (SocMon/SEM-Pasificka). Strategic Plan: 2015-2019

This (first ever) strategic plan was developed to identify and prioritize the way forward for advancing a global and regional understanding of human interactions with and dependence on coastal resources. The strategic plan reflects the input from coordinators from the regional nodes, key stakeholders and partners interested in improving the integration of human dimensions monitoring into wider coastal ecosystem monitoring efforts. The plan presents a vision for short, medium and long term expectations for the Global Socioeconomic Monitoring Initiative (SocMon).

Sythesis of Issues Affecting the Management of Coral Reefs and Recommendations for Long-Term Capacity Building in U.S. Jurisdictions

This document was prepared as a brief synthesis of common issues identified across the seven jurisdictions documents and includes potential short and long-term strategies to build adaptive capacity at the scale of the network of jurisdictions. While this synthesis document was commissioned by and prepared for the Coral Reef Conservation Program, they cannot be expected to be the sole lead in a capacity building program to improve coral reef management. The intended audience for this document is therefore the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force, the All Islands Committee, as well as all state and local government agencies and the non-governmental and academic communities involved in coral reef management who contribute capacity to address these persistent issues.

Guidance for an Epidemiological Strategy and Establishing a Disease Surveillance Network for Caribbean Acropora palmata

Acropora palmata was listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act in May 2006 (71 FR 26852). In 2012, the National Marine Fisheries Service proposed the reclassification of A. palmata (77 FR 73219) as endangered, but determined in 2014, that they would remain listed as threatened under the ESA (79 FR 53852). This coral is present only in the Caribbean where its existence is threatened by infectious pathogens, pollution, and human activities. There is a critical need to conserve remaining stocks of corals, but the status of this species is unknown in many regions in the Caribbean because the capacity to assess their condition and monitor reefs is lacking. This is particularly challenging in many Caribbean locations (e.g., small island countries). With limited financial and personnel resources, these managers lack access to a coordinated network of collaborators. The goal of this workshop was to provide methods that can assist coral reef managers, particularly those with limited resources, to assess and manage the health of their respective coral populations with a focus on A. palmata as a sentinel species.

Evaluation of Marine Outreach and Education USVI Style Initiative: Improving Fishing Community Awareness and Compliance

This report shares findings from the evaluation of the 2015 Marine Outreach and Education U.S. Virgin Islands Style Initiative's (MOES-VI) Improving Fishing Community Awareness and Compliance Project (IFCACP) commercial fisher registration workshops held in St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI), during the second week of July, and in St. Thomas, USVI, during the third week of July. Blue Earth Consultants, with guidance from the IFCACP's steering committee, assessed the effectiveness of the new fisher registration process and training module. The following report aims to help inform Department of Planning and Natural Resources, NOAA Fisheries and NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program as they make adjustments and refinements to their MOES-VI IFCACP program and workshops. The report describes the development and implementation of the evaluation methodology and tool, the results of the evaluations completed by fishers, Blue Earth staff observations during the workshops, recommendations for changes or improvements to the fisher registration and workshop processes as well as insights on fishers' perspectives on fisheries management and enforcement effectiveness in the USVI.

A Strategy for a Healthy Gulf of Mexico: Resilience Through Ecosystem Restoration

This document identifies general priorities and actions where NOAA seeks to use its collective mandates, science, management and policy expertise to collaborate with our state, federal, academic, industry and NGO partners (regional and national) to help restore the Gulf ecosystem and economy and extend our commitment to a Gulf-wide, ecosystem-scale approach to recovery and restoration.

Assessing relative resilience potential of coral reefs to inform management in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands

Coral reef managers face the challenge of reducing vulnerability to the effects of climate change by reducing other sources of stress to support the resilience of reef systems. Resilience-based management (RBM) has been developed to overcome the challenges of reducing vulnerability in this era of rapid change. RBM of coral reefs can include assessing spatial variation in resilience potential and then targeting and tailoring appropriate actions, which is the focus of the project reported on here. In CNMI, undertaking resilience-based management became a priority following a bleaching event in 2000, which caused 60-70% coral mortality in some locations, and a less severe bleaching event in 2005 that coincided with an outbreak of crown-of-thorns starfish. This project report: provides further background both to this project and ecological resilience assessments in reef areas, describes our methods for assessing the various resilience indicators and anthropogenic stressors, shares highlights of our results and progress towards each of the objectives, identifies next steps, and has an appendix with tables and map graphics that expand upon the content within the main report. This report includes Site Summaries; 1-page overviews for each of the 84 sites we surveyed of the field data, resilience assessment results and the results of the queries that identify targets for various types of management actions.

Southeast Florida Coral Reef Fishery-Independent Baseline Assessment: 2012-2014 Summary Report

This study uses reef visual census (RVC) fish count data from three years to provide a regional baseline fishery-independent assessment of reef fish species composition and relative abundance in southeast Florida. Preliminary comparisons of reef fish population parameters to long-term data sets from the Florida Keys and Dry Tortugas are made in this report. Using the southeast Florida RVC data with the Florida Keys and Dry Tortugas data sets allows natural resource managers and researchers to evaluate reef fish status and trends along the entire Florida reef tract for the first time.