About the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force

The U.S. National Coral Reef Action Strategy's 13 Goals for Addressing Threats to Coral Reefs Worldwide

THEME 1: Understand Coral Reef Ecosystems

Better understanding of complex coral reef ecosystems will improve management and conservation of these valuable resources.

  • Goal 1: Create comprehensive maps of all U.S. coral reef habitat.
  • Goal 2: Conduct long-term monitoring and assessments of reef ecosystem conditions.
  • Goal 3: Support strategic research to address the major threats to reef ecosystems.
  • Goal 4: Increase understanding of the social and economic factors of conserving coral reefs.

THEME 2: Reduce the Adverse Impacts of Human Activities

Reducing the impacts of human activities is essential to conserving coral reef ecosystems.

  • Goal 5: Improve the use of marine protected areas to reduce threats.
  • Goal 6: Reduce adverse impacts of fishing and other extractive uses.
  • Goal 7: Reduce impacts of coastal uses.
  • Goal 8: Reduce pollution.
  • Goal 9: Restore damaged reefs.
  • Goal 10: Improve education and outreach.
  • Goal 11: Reduce threats to coral reef ecosystems internationally.
  • Goal 12: Reduce impacts from international trade in coral reef species.
  • Goal 13: Improve coordination and accountability.

The United States is one of many nations around the world working to halt the coral reef crisis and protect, restore, and sustainably use coral reef ecosystems. The United States Coral Reef Task Force (USCRTF) was established in 1998 by Presidential Executive Order 13089 to lead U.S. efforts to preserve and protect coral reef ecosystems. The USCRTF has been instrumental in building partnerships and strategies for on-the-ground action to conserve coral reefs. The USCRTF works in cooperation with State, territorial, commonwealth, and local government agencies, nongovernmental organizations, the scientific community, and commercial interests to further the understanding and conservation of coral reef ecosystems.

The USCRTF is responsible for overseeing implementation of the Executive Order, and developing and implementing coordinated efforts to map and monitor U.S. coral reefs; research the causes of, and solutions to coral reef decline; reduce and mitigate coral reef degradation from pollution, over fishing and other causes; and implement strategies to promote conservation and sustainable use of coral reefs internationally.

In 2000, the USCRTF adopted the National Action Plan to Conserve Coral Reefs (National Action Plan), the first national blueprint for U.S. domestic and international action to address the growing coral reef crisis. The plan outlines 13 integrated conservation strategies within two fundamental themes to address the most pressing challenges facing reefs today. To help implement the National Action Plan, the USCRTF launched a variety of initiatives and provides a forum to support collaborative action of its members and partner organizations.

In 2002, the USCRTF developed the U.S. Coral Reef National Action Strategy (National Action Strategy) to further implement the National Action Plan as called for in the Coral Reef Conservation Act of 2000 (CRCA) (16 U.S.C. §6401 et seq.). These documents provide the guiding framework for the priorities, strategies, and actions of the USCRTF and its members.

USCRTF members meet biannually to discuss key issues, propose new actions, present progress reports, and update the coral community on past accomplishments and future plans. In addition, the USCRTF Steering Committee - made up of representatives from each of the participating Federal agencies, states, and territories - meets monthly to discuss progress on current USCRTF initiatives and plan new areas for collaboration.