Sharing the Nationwide Task of Coral Reef Conservation
The U.S. Coral Reef Task Force - created by Executive Order in 1998 to coordinate coral reef conservation activities among government agencies at the national and local level - recently held its 41st meeting in Washington, DC. The meeting, co-chaired by NOAA and Department of the Interior leadership, provided a valuable opportunity to discuss current issues in coral reef conservation.
Representatives from both federal co-chair agencies, as well as the local government of Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Hawai’i, discussed lessons learned and recovery efforts from Hurricanes Irma and Maria, and the recent flooding event in Hawai’i. Panelists and task force members stressed the important role that coral reefs serve as protection for coastal communities from storm waves and flooding, and the need for continued and new partnerships among federal and local government agencies.
A discussion on innovative techniques and technology for coral reef management was led by representatives from NASA, the National Geographic Society, and The Nature Conservancy. The Panel discussed innovative tools, including MiDAR, a remote sensing instrument being used to map coral reefs; Allen Coral Atlas, which is using nano-satellites to map coral reefs in detail; and the Coastal Zone Management Trust, an insurance program for the tourism industry on the Yucatan peninsula in Mexico that supports coastal restoration.
The final panel on the Florida stony coral tissue loss disease included various representatives from Florida and the U.S. Virgin Islands, who discussed the disease response team’s activities in Florida and local government efforts in Florida to address coral reef health, and how the U.S. Virgin Islands are addressing a similar disease outbreak that has been identified throughout the Caribbean region.
The next U.S. Coral Reef Task Force meeting is tentatively scheduled for August 2019 in Palau.
The NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program was established in 2000 by the Coral Reef Conservation Act. Headquartered in Silver Spring, Maryland, the program is part of NOAA's Office for Coastal Management.