Stressed-Out Coral Reefs

Reporter: Bjorn Carey, Live Science Writer

Coral reefs in the United States are stressed out. Despite conservation efforts, coral reefs continue to face both natural and human-induced stressors, including overfishing, disease, pollution, and climate change according to a recent report by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

However, the report indicates that reef management actions are headed in the right direction. The NOAA, federal, state, territory, and local authorities have begun to implement “local action strategies” ot reduce key threats to coral reefs – large, multi-organism living structures that many other sea creatures call home.

“Healthy shallow coral reef ecosystems are a key factor for robust marine ecosystems and the economic well-being of many coastal communities,” said Conrad C. Lautenbacher, retired Navy Vice Admiral and NOAA administrator.

Coral reef monitoring activities are being conducted in 14 jurisdictions, ranging from the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico to the Hawaiian Islands and American Samoa. Scientists are gathering data about water quality, corals and other seafloor organisms as well revising fishing laws and establishing coral reef protected areas.

“The good news is that there are monitoring systems in place which will continue to strengthen the cooperative governance and stewardship of our coral ecosystems,” said Timothy Keeney, co-chair of the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force.