The Coral Reef Conservation Program provides financial awards (grants and cooperative agreements) to support conservation projects and scientific studies that benefit coral reef management across seven U.S. states and territories, the Caribbean, and the Pacific.
Each year, we strive to award at least $8 million in grants and cooperative agreements, which are matched by nonprofit organizations, academic institutions, regional fishery management councils, commercial entities, community groups, and state and territorial natural resource management agencies. All projects focus on the reduction of primary threats to coral reefs—global climate change, land-based sources of pollution, and unsustainable fishing practices— and coral reef restoration as outlined in the Coral Reef Conservation Program’s Strategic Plan. Funded projects also focus on priority coral reef regions and watersheds.
Capping an unusually busy legislative session in 2021, Hawaii's Governor signed nine new bills into law, significantly improving the management and protection of local marine resources. NOAA's Coral Reef Conservation Program, through its NGO Partnerships, provided grants to Conservation International Hawaii to provide the required feasibility studies exploring ways to improve marine management in the Aloha state. The first grant produced a "Feasibility of a Non-Commercial Marine Fishing Registry, Permit, or License System in Hawaii." With the guidance provided by this study, House Bill 1023 was passed and signed into law, prohibiting non-residents from fishing, taking, or catching marine life without a new license and related fees. The current grant provides funds for an "Ocean Conservation Incentives Legal Review," which will help guide implementation of House Bill 1019, setting up a five-year ocean stewardship special fund and a $1 user fee for the conservation, restoration and enhancement of Hawaii’s aquatic resources.
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.