Coral Reef NOAA
 
August 23, 2014  

Conservation Methods


 
 
Ecosystem-based Management
Multidisciplinary Approach to Coral Reef Conservation
Key Coral Conservation Themes
   Marine Protected Areas (MPAs)
   Coral Research, Restoration, or Monitoring Expeditions
   Coral Reef Ecosystem Monitoring, Mapping and Assessing



Ecosystem-based Management

Addressing the many threats to coral reefs cannot be approached separately when working in actual geographic areas. Implementation of activities to conserve coral ecosystems must be integrated into an ecosystem-based management approach to ensure a holistic and integrated management approach to support healthy, resilient coral reef ecosystems. Effective conservation of coral ecosystems must be based on the needs of the varying ecosystems and communities and cannot take a one-size-fits-all approach. For instance, the placement of a marine protected area can effectively address the impacts of fishing and/or conserve an area potentially resilient to climate change, coupled with efforts to address land-based sources of pollution from adjacent and associated watersheds.

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Multidisciplinary Approach to Coral Reef Conservation,

Understanding the biological, chemical, and physical aspects of complex coral ecosystems is critical for successful management; however, it is not the complete picture. People and communities rely on these resources so it is often the social, economic, or political aspects of coral reef management that drive decisions. Coral reef management strategies that seek to engage and actively involve communities will ultimately be the most effective. Activities related to social science, education and outreach, and community engagement are critical and a multidisciplinary approach to conservation must also include on-the-ground management actions, biophysical monitoring, applied research, modeling, socioeconomic research, enforcement, and capacity building.

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Key Coral Conservation Themes

Marine Protected Areas (MPAs)

To watch a video clip about MPAs, click here.
Appropriately placed and well-managed marine protected areas (MPAs) are effective tools to protect and restore coral reef ecosystems—particularly when combined with other management strategies, such as integrated coastal management and ecosystem-based fisheries management.

Learn more about the Pacific Islands Marine Protected Areas Community

NOAA's Coral Research, Restoration, or Monitoring Expeditions

Click here to watch a video clip about Aquarius, a underwater research station owned by NOAA, operated by the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, and located on the ocean floor off the coast of Florida

NOAA conducts many research, restoration, and monitoring expeditions to coral ecosystems, some of which are funded by the NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program. As often as possible, the scientists on these missions post online mission logs to document their activities. A selection of mission logs from recent missions are presented below. These logs document the purposes of the missions, daily activities onboard the missions, new discoveries, and much more. They are also full of exciting photos of the people and activities involved in the missions, as well as the organisms that are encountered during them.

Coral Reef Ecosystem Monitoring, Mapping and Assessing
NOAA Coral Reef Watch (CRW) uses satellite sea surface temperature data to alert managers and scientists around the world of the risk of coral bleaching. CRW has also recently developed a new system, which uses NOAA experimental sea surface temperature forecasts, to predict coral bleaching events. The prediction system uses forecast models to develop bleaching outlooks up to three months in advance. To continue addressing the threat of coral bleaching, reef managers are provided with tools to understand climate change and coral bleaching and information about how to take action in response to alerts of potential bleaching conditions.

The National Coral Reef Ecosystem Monitoring Program (NCREMP) supports local shallow-water coral reef ecosystem monitoring activities. The goal of NCREMP is a nationally-coordinated, comprehensive, long-term monitoring program to assess the condition of US shallow-water coral reef ecosystems, evaluate the efficacy of coral reef ecosystem management, and communicate progress toward conservation of coral reef ecosystems.

Coral Reef Early Warning System (CREWS) stations loaded with meteorological and oceanographic instruments monitor the health of coral reefs at major US coral reef areas, and beyond. CREWS stations' instruments can include above-water meteorological devices that measure wind speed, gusts, wind direction, air temperature, barometric pressure, precipitation and light. Underwater instruments include a light sensor and a device that measures the conductivity, temperature and depth of seawater. As part of the NOAA Integrated Coral Observing Network (ICON), the CREWS stations report weather and water data to the NOAA National Weather Service. The entire network of monitoring stations provides valuable information for future hurricane forecasts/models and can be used to understand coral bleaching and coral reef-related events. The CREWS system has been successfully used in modeling and alerts of coral bleaching conditions in the Florida Keys and the Great Barrier Reef.

NOAA compiles a comprehensive report describing the condition of shallow-water coral reef ecosystems in the US and Pacific Freely Associated States. The report was called for by the US Coral Reef Task Force in the US National Action Plan to Conserve Coral Reefs.

The third edition of this report, The State of Coral Reef Ecosystems of the United States and Pacific Freely Associated States: 2008, was published in 2008. Follow the link to learn more and to access the report.

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