Trends in Coral Resource Condition and Threat Level
Since there are no standardized monitoring programs, methods, or data sets that can be used to compare the state of coral reef ecosystems across all 15 U.S. coral jurisdictions, interested parties have had to rely on the knowledge and expert opinion of coastal managers and scientists who are responsible for monitoring and managing coral reef ecosystems within each jurisdiction.
In recent years, NOAA's Center for Coastal Monitoring and Assessment has collected this expert knowledge using the same, multiple-choice surveys across all U.S. coral jurisdictions. The results of these surveys represent data that can be used to compare coral resource conditions and trends across jurisdictions. The results of these surveys are subject to biases of the respondents, however they represent the best available information until standard monitoring protocols can be implemented in all jurisdictions.
Overall trends from these surveys indicate that coral resource condition is declining and threats are increasing (see Table). Over the past 10 to 25 years, more than two-thirds of U.S. coral jurisdictions reported increasing threats from climate change and coral bleaching, coral disease, tourism and recreation, subsistence and recreational fishing, and marine debris (Waddell and Clarke, 2008).
|Living Coral Cover||Decreasing|
|Reef Fish Populations||Decreasing|
|Harvested Reef Fish & Macroinvertebrates||Decreasing|
|Climate Change and Coral Bleaching||Increasing|
|Tourism & Recreation||Increasing|
|Subsistence & Recreation Fishing||Increasing|
|Aquatic Invasive Species||Increasing|
For more information:
The State of Coral Reef Ecosystems of the United States and Pacific Freely Associated States: 2008 (Waddell and Clarke, 2008)
NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program
The Economics of Worldwide Coral Reef Degradation