Coral Reef Task Force Graduates First Watershed from Watershed Partnership Initiative
Addressing excess land-based sources of pollution is an important management action for improving water quality to support resilient coral reef ecosystems. The U.S. Coral Reef Task Force developed the Watershed Partnership Initiative to facilitate interdisciplinary partnerships with federal, state/territory, and local entities to mitigate pollution from priority watersheds adjacent to valuable coral reef resources. In 2012, Faga'alu watershed in American Samoa was selected as a priority site for the Initiative, and in 2022, was honored as its first graduate.
NOAA's Coral Reef Conservation Program coordinated and partnered with many federal agencies, academic organizations, and local managers and community members to conduct baseline and performance monitoring, implement key management activities (green infrastructure), and build local capacity.
Following 10 years of partnership implementing best practices, Faga'alu watershed graduated after demonstrating ecological improvement and establishing sufficient local capacity to monitor and manage future land-based sources of pollution issues.
Additionally, local community participation has enhanced village ownership in managing their natural resources. In fact, the village of Faga'alu is now in the process of developing a marine protected area in Faga'alu Bay to expand its stewardship of the natural resources found beyond the shoreline.
The U.S Coral Reef Task Force will soon add additional priority watersheds to the Watershed Partnership Initiative and can use the accomplishments and lessons learned from Faga'alu to guide these news sites toward achieving similar successful outcomes. We want to thank our partners at NOAA Fisheries, NOAA National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science, U.S. Geological Survey, National Park Service, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, and San Diego University for their work on this project!
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.