NOAA Line Offices Working On Coral Reef Ecosystems

The NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program (CRCP) is a partnership between the NOAA Line Offices that work on coral reef issues: the National Ocean Service, the National Marine Fisheries Service, the Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research, and the National Environmental Satellite, Data and Information Service.  The CRCP brings together expertise from across NOAA for a multidisciplinary approach to managing and understanding coral reef ecosystems.

National Ocean Service (NOAA Oceans and Coasts Services, NOS)

NOS is charged with balancing environmental protection and economic prosperity along the nation’s coasts.  NOS assists coastal communities in their efforts to respond to changing conditions, works to protect U.S. coastal and ocean environments, and is responsible for ensuring safe navigation.

NOS serves as the coordinating office for the CRCP, overseeing NOAA planning and budget activities related to coral reefs and implementing priority projects to advance the goals of the program as required of NOAA under the CRCA.  In addition to coordination of the program, NOS activities within the CRCP include mapping coral reef ecosystems, conducting monitoring through the National Coral Reef Monitoring Program, conducting strategic research, increasing effectiveness of coral reef protected areas, reducing pollution, and working to strengthen coral reef ecosystem management capacity in the state and territories.  NOS also leads and staffs NOAA’s role as co-chair of the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force.

National Marine Fisheries Service (NOAA Fisheries Service, NMFS)

Coral reefs and associated habitats support valuable recreational and commercial fisheries in the U.S.  More than fifty percent of all federally managed fisheries depend on coral reefs for part of their lifecycle, including more than 500 commercially available fishes and invertebrates, and four species listed as candidates for protection under the Endangered Species Act.  The Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act of 1996 mandates that NOAA reduce overfishing and fishing-associated impacts on U.S. coral reef ecosystems.  NOAA Fisheries is working to reduce and control the effects of overfishing and is conducting research to better understand the impacts of fishing activities on coral reef ecosystems. 

National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service (NOAA Satellites and Information Service, NESDIS)

As part of the CRCP, NESDIS coordinates remote sensing efforts to monitor coral reef indices key to the establishment of coral reef ecosystem alerts, such as early warnings for coral bleaching events.  These remote sensing efforts enable NOAA to participate in international efforts for the coordination and integration of remote sensing and in situ monitoring efforts related to coral reef ecosystems.  NESDIS supports research into the use of high-resolution remotely sensed imagery to detect coral reef composition and assess diversity indices as well as research on past climatic conditions influencing coral reef ecosystems, including paleoclimate data generated from coral reef organisms.  NESDIS is also active in coral reef data management and distribution, technology sharing, and provides important satellite data to support a number of coral reef activities. 

Oceanic and Atmospheric Research (NOAA Research, OAR)

OAR drives NOAA’s research on atmospheric and oceanic phenomena, including climate variability, ocean currents and coastal ecosystem health.  As part of the CRCP, NOAA Research conducts strategic coral reef ecosystem research to help fulfill NOAA’s responsibilities.

The National Undersea Research Program centers for the Southeast U.S., Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean conduct ongoing monitoring and research on reef fish ecology and management of fishery resources.  The Centers are active in coral reef restoration efforts and conduct research within marine reserves and on deep water reefs. Sea Grant programs in Florida, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, Texas and California also actively support local coral reef research and outreach activities.

Additional Information

There are many offices within each Line Office that participate in the NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program. For additional information about these offices visit the NOAA Web Sites page under the Browse tab in the CoRIS Geoportal Search Tool.