Task Force Members

The USCRTF membership, as established in 1998, included members of 11 Federal agencies, which has since grown to include 12 Federal agencies, 7 U.S. States, Territories, Commonwealths, and 3 Freely Associated States.

Recognizing that coral reef ecosystems are largely in state and territorial waters, one of the first actions the USCRTF took in 1999 was to invite the Governors of American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Florida, Guam, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands to join the USCRTF as full members and partners.

In 2000, the Presidents of the Freely Associated States of the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Republic of Palau were invited to participate in the USCRTF as non voting members.

Co-Chairs

U.S. Department of Commerce, NOAA

The Department of Commerce's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) forecasts weather and climate, manages fisheries and coastal areas, provides navigation services, and researches atmospheric and oceanic issues. NOAA's mission is to describe and predict changes in the Earth's environment, and to conserve and effectively manage America's coastal and marine resources to ensure sustainable economic opportunities. NOAA's four major goals include protecting, restoring, and managing the use of coastal and ocean resources through ecosystem-based management; understanding climate variability and change to enhance society's ability to plan and respond; serving society's needs for weather and water information; and supporting the Nation's commerce with information for safe, efficient, and environmentally sound transportation.

NOAA's Coral Reef Conservation Program supports effective management and sound science to preserve, sustain, and restore valuable coral reef ecosystems.

U.S. Department of the Interior

The mission of the Department of the Interior (DOI) is to protect and provide access to the United States natural and cultural heritage and honor its trust responsibilities to Indian tribes. Coral reefs are considered trust resources, and, assuch are subject to DOI policies. DOI bureaus responsible for coral reef ecosystems resources are the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Office of Insular Affairs, U.S. Geological Survey, National Park Service, and Minerals Management Service. These bureaus work cooperatively and with others agencies to conserve, protect, and enhance coral reef ecosystems for the continuing benefit of the American people.

National Park Service (DOI)

The National Park Service (NPS) is a world leader in the parks and preservation community, an environmental advocate, and a pioneer in protecting America's open spaces. NPS protects diverse natural, cultural, and recreational resources in the National Park System, including 40 that contain marine and estuarine resources. Of these, a total of 10 National Park units conserve more than 276,000 acres of coral reefs, ranging from South Florida and the U.S. Virgin Islands to the Hawaiian Islands and the Territories of Guam and American Samoa.

Fish and Wildlife Service (DOI)

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's (FWS) mission is to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. FWS also protects and restores reefs and other species and habitats, enforces laws, and works with other countries to foster reef conservation worldwide. The mission of the FWS National Wildlife Refuge System is to administer a national network of lands and waters for the conservation, management, and, where appropriate, tne restoration of fish, wildlife, and plant resources and their habitats within the United States for the benefit of present and future generations of Americans.

U.S. Geological Survey (DOI)

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), established in 1879, is the United States principal natural science and information agency, conducting research, monitoring. and assessments to improve our understanding of the natural world Americas lands, water, and biological resources. The USGS provides reliable, impartial information that is used by managers, planners, and citizens to understand, assess, and plan for changes in the environment. With research centers and field stations in South Florida, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Hawaii, and elsewhere across the Nation, the USGS provides resource managers with information to better understanding the ecology, health, and management of coral reefs.

Office of Insular Affairs (DOI)

The Office of Insular Affairs (OIA) coordinates Federal policy in the Territories of American Samoa, Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. With most U.S. coral reefs located in these "insular" areas, OIA plays an important role in improving the management and protection of coral reefs. OIA also provides technical and financial assistance to the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Republic of Palau, which share financial, diplomatic, and military ties with the United States through a special relationship known as the Compact of Free Association. The Freely Associated States have some of the richest coral reef resources in the world and some of the oldest and most effective traditional management systems.

Minerals Management Service (DOI)

The mission of the Minerals Management Service (MMS) is to manage mineral resources on the outer continental shelf in an environmentally sound and safe manner and to collect, verify, and distribute mineral revenues from federal and Indian lands. Its Coastal Impact Assistance Program supports projects and activities that conserve, protect, and restorate coastal areas.

Federal Agency Members

U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)

USAID is an independent government agency that provides economic and humanitarian assistance in more than 100 countries. The agency has provided development and foreign disaster assistance worldwide for more than 40 years, and now supports coral reef conservation and coastal management efforts in more than 20 countries.

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)

The USDA is provide leadership on food, agriculture, natural resources, and related issues based on sound public policy, the best available science, and efficient management. The Natural Resources and Environment Mission Area within USDA is comprised of the U.S. Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Forest Service. These agencies work with landowners and other public and private partners to promote natural resource conservation and enhancement on approximately 1.6 billion acres of private and other non-federal lands. The 2002 Farm Bill has provided private landowners with opportunities to receive technical and financial assistance to implement conservation systems and practices that help achieve economic objectives while conserving and enhancing natural resources. Conservation practices such as conservation buffers, wetlands restoration and enhancement, and nutrient and pesticide management can reduce or eliminate the transport of potential non point source pollutants to adjacent streams and other receiving water bodies. Improving water quality in agricultural watersheds is beneficial to downstream water quality, and ultimately to coastal and ocean resources.

Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS)

The NRCS is the primary Federal agency that works with private landowners to help them conserve, maintain and improve their natural resources. The Agency emphasizes voluntary, science-based conservation; technical assistance; partnerships; incentive-based programs; and cooperative problem solving at the community level.

Department of Defense (DoD)

The DoD is responsible for providing the military forces needed to deter war and protect the security of the United States. The major elements of these forces are the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps. Each of these Services relies on our oceans and coasts to complete their mission. The DoD Representative for Ocean Policy Affairs (REPOPA) monitors trends in ocean law and policy - including the positive development of the Law of the Sea Convention - monitors and coordinates the Navy's Freedom of Navigation program, and compiles, catalogs and disseminates current information on foreign maritime claims and developments in ocean law and policy that affect military operations. The U.S. Navy trains and fights on, under, and above the world's oceans. The Office of Naval Research coordinates, executes, and promotes the science and technology programs of the United States Navy and Marine Corps. The Oceanographer of the Navy provides worldwide, comprehensive, integrated weather and ocean support– meteorology, oceanography, geospatial information and services, and precise time and astrometry - to the Fleet. The Army Corps of Engineers plans, designs, constructs and operates water resources and other civil works projects related to navigation, flood control, environmental protection, and disaster response. Each military Service supports a comprehensive environmental program that assesses the impact of its activities on both land and water-based resources.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (DoD)

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers considers conservation, environmental preservation, and restoration in all missions, operating under strict Environmental Operating Principles. The Corps missions include water infrastructure, environmental management and restoration, regulation of activities that affect the nations aquatic environment, response to natural and manmade disasters, and engineering and technical services.

U.S. Coast Guard

U.S. Coast Guard

The Coast Guard is the nation's principle maritime law-enforcement service, enforcing federal laws and treaties, and exercises international agreements on the high seas and waters under U.S. jurisdiction. The Coast Guard enforces laws that support sound management of our nation's fisheries, safeguard protected species and conserve the marine environment as a public commonwealth. The Coast Guard actively promotes pollution prevention and response preparedness, and enforces laws prohibiting the discharge of oil, the release of hazardous substances, and the introduction of non-indigenous invasive species into U.S. navigable waters. In addition, the Coast Guard works to ensure the safety of fishing vessels, recreational boaters, commercial passengers, freight and tank vessels, and the maritime transportation system itself through prevention, compliance, and inspection programs, search-and-rescue, and casualty investigation. The Coast Guard manages navigable waterways to ensure that they support activities such as domestic commerce, international trade, recreational use and national defense. The Coast Guard serves as America's voice in the International Maritime Organization (IMO) addressing maritime issues at the global scale, and is actively engaged in several Federal Advisory Committees that bear on domestic policy for the nation’s marine resources.

U.S. Department of Justice

Created in 1909, the Environment and Natural Resources Division of the U.S. Department of Justice represents the United States, its agencies and officials in matters relating to environmental quality, public lands and natural resources, Indian lands and native claims, and wildlife and fishery resources. The Division's responsibilities are varied and include both enforcement and defensive work in criminal and civil cases. With more than 400 lawyers located in offices in Washington, D.C., Anchorage, Boston, Denver, Sacramento, San Francisco and Seattle, the Division is the Nation's largest environmental law firm. It has represented virtually every Federal agency in courts all over the U.S. and its territories and possessions, and currently has more than 10,000 active cases. Among its principal responsibilities are: (1) conducting litigation under federal statutes enacted to protect the environment; require the cleanup of hazardous waste or recover the costs of cleanup; regulate air and water pollution; control dredging and filling in navigable waters; and control the use of pesticides; (2) conducting litigation related to the control and abatement of pollution to the Nation's air and water resources, the regulation and control of toxic substances, pesticides, and solid wastes; and (3) conducting litigation concerning the management of fisheries and other living resources of the coastal and marine environments, and the management of the coastal zone.

U.S. Department of State (DOS)

The DOS coordinates and formulates U.S. government policy on international oceans issues, and then implements policies by working in all available venues. Such venues include U.S. bilateral relationships with nation-states and non governmental organizations, regional organizations, the United Nations, multilateral conferences, international meetings, and other opportunites. To ensure that U.S. interests are realized. Within its Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs, DOS has two offices dedicated to international oceans issues: the Office of Marine Conservation, which has primary responsibility for international fisheries matters and related problems, and the Office of Oceans Affairs, which has primary responsibility for international ocean law and policy, marine pollution, marine mammals, polar affairs, and marine science. In addition, State Department officers in U.S. embassies and consulates across the globe interact with international counterparts as oceans related issues arise.

U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT)

The DOT is involved in U.S. ocean and coastal policy primarily through two of its agencies, the Maritime Administration and the Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation, both of which support DOT's strategic goals of safety, mobility, global connectivity, environmental stewardship, and security. The Maritime Administration (MARAD) builds on our maritime heritage, promoting a U.S. maritime industry for the Nation's continued security and prosperity. The agency's programs seek to assure that the U.S. has efficient ports and terminals with modern intermodal connections; sufficient commercial shipping capacity to meet the needs of the Nation's growing economy and of the Department of Defense in times of national emergency; adequate shipbuilding and repair service and facilities; and an available professional workforce for employment in the marine transportation system. The Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation (SLSDC), a wholly owned government corporation within DOT, is responsible for operation and maintenance of the U.S. portion of the St. Lawrence Seaway. The Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway System, also known as "America's Fourth Seacoast," is an active North American transportation corridor for the movement of commercial goods into a robust economic region.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

The EPA protects human health and safeguards the natural environment upon which all life depends. EPA contributes to the protection of the Nation's ocean and coastal resources by striving to ensure that all waters, including coral reefs, are successfully managed, protected, and restored to sustain healthy biological communities and to protect human health. EPA's ocean and coastal protection activities emphasize habitat protection, partnerships, programs addressing ocean-based and land-based sources of coastal and ocean pollution, and water quality monitoring and assessment. Whenever possible, these activities are implemented on an integrated watershed basis, addressing air, land, and ecosystem relationships.

National Aeronautic and Space Administration (NASA)

NASA's ability to study the Earth's oceans from space is essential to progress in oceanography, given the global reach of the Earth's oceans and their extensive interactions with the atmosphere in shaping Earth's climate. The primary objectives of NASA's oceanography programs are to describe, understand, and predict the time-varying, three-dimensional circulation of the ocean and the biological regimes of the upper ocean as determined from space. Its oceans and coastal programs encompass core research within the sub disciplines of physical and biological oceanography. Aspects of oceanographic modeling are also supported within the Global Modeling and Analysis Program, and the high-latitude, ice-covered oceans are supported by the Cryospheric Sciences Program. Oceanographic research is integrated with other aspects of NASA's Earth Observing System through the agency's interdisciplinary program.

National Science Foundation (NSF)

The NSF is an independent Federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering, with an annual budget of nearly $5.47 billion. NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 universities and institutions. Each year, NSF receives about 40,000 competitive requests for funding, and makes about 11,000 new funding awards. In particular, they provides more than $10 million each year for research on coral reefs, their associated ecosystems, the organisms inhabiting them, and the geological setting of reefs.

State and Territory Members

Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI)

The CNMI office of the Governor established the Coastal Resources Management Office when Pbulic Law 3-47 took effect in February 1983. The program's goal is to promote the conservation and wise development of coastal resources.

Commonwealth of Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico's Coastal Management Program was created in 1978 and is comprised of a network of agencies with authority in the coastal zone. The Department of Natural and Environmental Resources serves as the lead agency and is responsible for managing the maritime zone, coastal waters, and submerged lands.

State of Florida

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) is the state's lead agency for environmental management and stewardship. The department administers regulatory programs and issues permits for air, water, and waste management. It also oversees the State's land and water conservation program, called Florida Forever, and manages the nationally award-winning Florida Park Service.

The FDEP Office of Coastal and Aquatic Managed Areas is responsible for the management of Florida's 41 Aquatic Preserves, three National Estuarine Research Reserves, one National Marine Sanctuary, and its Coral Reef Conservation Program.

The FDEP Coral Reef Conservation Program is coordinating the implementation of Florida's Local Action Strategy and Southeast Florida Coral Reef Initiative. It alos promotes and coordinates research, monitoring, partnerships, and stakeholder participation in the protection of southeast Florida's reefs.

State of Hawai'i

Hawai'i Division of Aquatic Resources (DAR) manages, conserves and restores the State's unique aquatic resources and ecosystems for present and future generations. The slogan, "Fish for the Future," emphasizes DAR's commitment to sustainably managing fisheries, including coral reef fisheries. Through education, scientific research, monitoring, community-based projects and more, DAR's coral reef program focuses on managing land-based pollution, coral reef fisheries, recreational impacts, aquatic invasive species, and coral disease.

Territory of Guam

In 1997, the Government of Guam passed Executive Order 97-10, thus adopting a Guam Coral Reef Initiative to establish a policy development mechanism for the protection of its coral reefs.

The initative directly addresses six main threats to Guam's reefs: Land-based sources of pollution, fishery management, recreation use and misuse, lack of awareness, coral bleaching and disease and global climate change.

Territory of American Samoa

The Coral Reef Advisory Group (CRAG) was established to protect and conserve coral reefs for the benefit of the people of American Samoa, the United States, and the world. CRAG member agencies strive to manage coral reefs in American Samoa by planning achievable programs, identifying and collaborating with other partners, obtaining funding for projects, tracking project compliance, promoting public awareness, and developing local capacity for eventual self-sustainability.

Territory of the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI)

The USVI Department of Planning and Natural Resources (DPNR)administers and enforces of all laws pertaining to the preservation and conservation of fish and wildlife, trees and vegetation, coastal zones, cultural and historical resources, water resources, and air, water, and oil pollution. DPNR is also responsible for oversight and compliance of land surveys, land subdivision, development and building permits, code enforcement, earth change permits, zoning administration, boat registration, and mooring and anchoring of vessels in territorial waters. It formulates long-range comprehensive and functional development plans for the territory's human, economic, and physical resources.

Freely Associated States

The Freely Associated States were invited to join the Coral Reef Task Force as non-voting members in August 2000.

Federated States of Micronesia

Republic of the Marshall Islands

Republic of Palau

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