Our Programs | Coral

The Coral Reef Conservation Program

picture of coral

The Coral Reef Conservation Program helps to protect important coral ecosystems.


The Coral Reef Conservation Program was established by the Coral Reef Conservation Act of 2000 to help protect important coral ecosystems. The Program brings together expertise from many NOAA offices for a multidisciplinary approach to managing and understanding coral reef and deep-sea coral ecosystems. This approach includes mapping, monitoring, research, training, management, outreach and education to provide information and tools that help solve key coral management issues

The Program facilitates and supports partnerships with scientific, private, government, and non-governmental groups at local, state, federal, and international levels. Areas of focus include the U.S. Pacific region (e.g. American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, and Hawaii), U.S. Atlantic/ Caribbean region (Florida, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands) and international areas (including the three Freely Associated States: the Federal States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Republic of Palau).

Two external grants programs, mandated by the Coral Reef Conservation Act, are coordinated by the Program: the NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Grants Program (Grants Program) and the Coral Reef Conservation Fund (Coral Fund). The Grants Program makes available matching grants in six categories to government agencies, non-government organizations and academic institutions; the Grant Program has awarded over $50 million (M) to these entities from 2002 through 2009. 

The Coral Fund is administered jointly by the Program and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) to help build public-private partnerships to reduce and prevent degradation of coral reefs and associated reef habitats (e.g. seagrass beds, mangroves etc.). The Foundation has leveraged $5.7 M in funds from NOAA, the Foundation, the Department of the Interior, and non-federal partners with $9.5 M in non-federal resources via the grantees. Through these partnerships, the Fund was able to provide more than $15 M to 140 coral conservation projects in 35 countries, eight U.S. territories or commonwealths, and four U.S. states.

Serving as the Secretariat for the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force, the Program helps coordinate coral reef conservation efforts across 12 federal agencies, seven states and territories in the U.S. Pacific and Atlantic/Caribbean regions, the three Freely Associated States, and with many other partners.

The Coral Reef Conservation Program is committed to continually refining its performance and efficiency measures to improve program effectiveness and better evaluate its overall performance. As such, the Program underwent an external program review in 2007. The primary recommendations coming out of that review were for the Program to narrow its focus from the original thirteen goals set out in The National Action Plan to Conserve Coral Reefs so that the Program can better effect measurable successes in coral conservation.  On June 29, 2009, after eight months of collaborative efforts, the Program released two reports outlining the twenty-year strategic goals and five-year objectives it will work towards to effectively address each of the top three threats to coral reef ecosystems—climate change impacts, fishing impacts, and impacts from land-based sources of pollution—both on domestic and international fronts. In addition, they direct the focus of the Program’s international conservation efforts towards the Pacific, the Coral Triangle region, and the Caribbean.  These documents provide strategic guidance on the Program’s priorities for fiscal years (FY) 2010-2015.  Learn more.

For additional information, contact coralreef@noaa.gov.

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