Despite publicity and investments, NOAA report concludes that "bold protective measures" still needed for coral reefs
Coral reef ecosystems in the United States continue to need bold protective measures, according to a recent NOAA report and associated press releases issued by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. In the report, The State of Coral Reef Ecosystems of the United States and Pacific Freely Associated States: 2008, coral ecosystems were graded on a five tier scale: excellent, good, fair, poor and unknown, and nearly half of U.S. coral reef ecosystems are considered to be in "poor" or "fair" condition. Furthermore, since the last status report in 2005, Elkhorn and Staghorn corals became the first ever coral species listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.
Cover image for NOAA's coral reef 2008 status report; click here for the Executive Summary
In that Executive Summary, NOAA's peer review panels reach a blunt conclusion or the coral reefs -- an ecosystem that the Palm Beach Post reported to account for 60,000 jobs and have an economic impact of $6 billion in Southern Florida alone:
"As the global population continues to increase and demographic shifts toward coastal areas persist, even greater pressures will be placed on nearshore resources to satisfy human desires for food, culture, tourism, recreation and profit. Key issues related to usage and access to coral reef ecosystem resources are likely to intensify as conflicts over incompatible uses become more frequent. Looking ahead, decision makers must find a means to balance users’ demands with efforts to conserve the resources that remain. Despite the investments made to date in managing and monitoring U.S. coral reef ecosystems and increasing manage-ment capacity at all levels, coral reef ecosystem resources have continued to decline over the short- and long-term. Present monitoring efforts are inadequate to support effective management and document the impacts of key threats and resource condition with sufficient confidence to detect change at meaningful temporal and spatial scales. Further support at all levels is needed to augment our ability to understand the impacts of threats and mitigate damage that occurs. Significant actions and bold protective measures are required if reef conditions are expected to improve in the future."