General Program Description

Coral ecosystems are valuable resources. They provide food, medicines, recreation, marine habitat, coastal protection and cultural value. They sustain livelihoods and economic development. The health of coral ecosystems is at serious risk due to a variety of human activities both local and global.

NOAA’s Coral Reef Conservation Program (CRCP) was established in 2000 to help fulfill NOAA’s responsibilities under the Coral Reef Conservation Act (CRCA) and Presidential Executive Order 13089 on Coral Reef Protection. The mission of the CRCP is to protect, conserve, and restore coral reef resources by maintaining healthy ecosystem function. The primary objective of the CRCP is to address strategic coral reef management needs in a targeted, cost-effective and efficient manner. To make the most of limited resources and to have the largest impact to reverse general declines in coral reef health, the CRCP narrowed the focus of its U.S. domestic program in 2010 and shifted allocation of CRCP resources to taking on-the-ground and in-the-water action. The CRCP is also expanding its international presence by becoming more actively involved in coral conservation efforts in the Pacific, the Coral Triangle region, and the Caribbean. To narrow its range of activities, the CRCP now emphasizes efforts to understand and address the top three recognized global threats to coral reef ecosystems: climate change impacts, fishing impacts, and impacts from land-based sources of pollution. Warmer and more acidic oceans—a result of elevated greenhouse gases—cause mass bleaching in corals and slow the growth of coral skeletons. Bottom trawl nets, blast fishing, cyanide fishing, and overexploitation of species essential for ecosystem balance are severely damaging coral reefs. In addition, coral reefs suffer major impairments from sediment runoff and from surges in algal cover caused by nutrient pollution.

The comprehensive collection of the Program’s goals and objectives can be found in the following two documents: NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program Goals & Objectives 2010-2015 and NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program International Strategy 2010-2015.

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