In April of 2010, the CRCP delivered the Implementation of the National Coral Reef Action Strategy: Report on NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program Activities from 2007 to 2009 (pdf, 2.92 mb) to Congress. It is the third of the biennial progress reports to Congress required by the Coral Reef Conservation Act of 2000. The report provides summaries and examples of the activities conducted by the CRCP and its extramural partners between 2007 and 2009 to implement the thirteen goals addressed in the National Coral Reef Action Strategy.
During the period covered by this report, the CRCP operated pursuant to thirteen program goals organized under two themes: Understanding Coral Reef Ecosystems and Reducing the Adverse Impacts of Human Activities. The report presents activities undertaken for each of these goals, including mapping, assessment, monitoring, partnerships, socioeconomic research, and restoration, among others. It also includes summaries of some major reports produced by, or in partnership with, the CRCP during this time period. The report also describes the Program's reorganization to focus its efforts to understand and address the three major threats to reefs; impacts from climate change, fishing, and land-based sources of pollution.
A few highlights from the report are listed below; please download the full report to learn about the full breadth of the Program's activities.
- The CRCP's support of Local Action Strategies in the seven US jurisdictions containing coral reefs. Each of these target the immediate local management needs and address a variety of pressing local issues. The CRCP provided $12,914,377 in coral reef management and monitoring grants to these seven jurisdictions between 2007 to 2009.
- When the CRCP was created in 2000, fewer than ten percent of all US coral reefs had been mapped. In the ensuing years the Program made significant progress towards the goal of mapping all US coral reefs using a variety of technological approaches, including satellite, aircraft, and ship-based surveys. Through the use of visual interpretation and spectral analysis of aerial photography and satellite imagery, the CRCP has completed 75 to 100 percent of shallow-water benthic habitat maps for Guam, American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the main Hawaiian Islands, the Republic of Palau, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands. The Program has completed 75 to 100 percent of shallow-water bathymetric maps for Puerto Rico, Navassa, the main Hawaiian Islands, and Guam. To date, more than 3,550 square miles (9,200 km2 ) of US coral reefs have been mapped.
- The Program has also been responsive to the growing worldwide threat to coral reefs posed by ocean acidification and coral bleaching, both linked to climate change. The ocean's absorption of carbon dioxide diminishes the availability of the basic building materials used by corals and other invertebrate organisms to grow skeletons. CRCP funding has helped establish a test station in the Atlantic, which provides detailed studies of changing ocean chemistry and how it affects marine life. In addition, the Program's funding of NOAA Coral Reef Watch has made possible widespread dissemination of alerts for potential coral bleaching events. Coral bleaching is another growing threat to coral reefs; extreme hot or cold ocean temperatures can lead to corals losing their symbiotic zooxanthellae, making them appear white or 'bleached.' While corals can recover from bleaching, it weakens them and makes them susceptible to other threats and can lead to the death of entire colonies. Coral Reef Watch is now able to produce seasonal outlooks for possible regional bleaching events, giving coral reef managers more time to prepare and try to reduce the impacts of other threats to their local reefs.
The CRCP has also been leading NOAA's efforts to assess the human dimension of coral reef resources by studying social and economic factors associated with coral reef use, their impacts on the marine ecosystem, and the human value associated with coral reefs. In 2008, the CRCP published socioeconomic monitoring guidelines for managers of coastal natural resources in the Pacific Region. These guidelines contain a prioritized list of socioeconomic parameters useful for coastal managers and simplified methods for data collection, archiving and analysis, as well as case studies.