Task Force Members

The USCRTF membership, as established in 1998, included members of 11 Federal agencies, which has since grown to include 14 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

From daily weather forecasts, severe storm warnings, and climate monitoring to fisheries management, coastal restoration and supporting marine commerce, the Department of Commerce's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's products and services support economic vitality and affect more than one-third of America's gross domestic product. NOAA's dedicated scientists use cutting-edge research and high-tech instrumentation to provide citizens, planners, emergency managers and other decision makers with reliable information they need, when they need it.

NOAA's mission to better understand our natural world and help protect its precious resources extends beyond national borders to monitor global weather and climate, and work with partners around the world.

Our agency holds key leadership roles in shaping international ocean, fisheries, climate, space and weather policies. NOAA's many assets - including research programs, vessels, satellites, science centers, laboratories and a vast pool of distinguished scientists and experts - are essential, internationally recognized resources. We work closely with other nations to advance our ability to predict and respond to changes in climate and other environmental challenges that imperil Earth's natural resources, human life and economic vitality.

NOAA's Coral Reef Conservation Program (Coral Program) supports effective management and sound science to preserve, sustain, and restore valuable coral reef ecosystems. The Coral Program brings together expertise from across NOAA for a multidisciplinary approach to studying these complex ecosystems to inform more effective management. We work closely with NOAA scientists in the National Ocean Service, National Marine Fisheries Service, Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research, and National Environmental Satellite, Data and Information Service.

Collaboration is critical to coral reef conservation. We partner with state and territorial governments, academic institutions, non-governmental organizations, and community groups to take targeted approaches to local issues that impact coral reef ecosystems.

U.S. Department of the Interior

The mission of the Department of the Interior (DOI) protects and manages the Nation's resources and cultural heritage; provides scientific and other information about these resources; and honors its trust responsibilities or special commitments to American Indians, Alaska Natives, and affiliated Island Communities. Coral reefs are considered trust resources, and, as such are subject to DOI policies. DOI bureaus responsible for coral reef ecosystems resources include the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Office of Insular Affairs, U.S. Geological Survey, National Park Service, and the Bureau of Ocean Management. These bureaus work cooperatively and with other 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 units 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, the 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. The USGS provides coral reef managers with information to better understand the geologic, hydrologic, oceanographic, and ecologic controls on the health and sustainability of coral reefs to help guide their effective management.

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.

Federal Agency Members

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)

FEMA's mission is to help people before, during and after disasters. FEMA helps partners understand and reduce their disaster risk, leads the coordination of federal response efforts to stabilize communities after a disaster, and provides support for individuals and communities to build back better and become more resilient than before. FEMA is supporting community climate action and resiliency through information, preparedness, mitigation, response and recovery, grants, and field operations. FEMA programs will help communities understand the climate-related risks they face, assess their greatest vulnerabilities, and plan for critical preparedness and climate adaptation measures. The agency's programs provide guidance, support, technical assistance, and funding based on emergency management best practices for risk and capability assessment, planning, training, and exercises.

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 provides leadership on food, agriculture, natural resources, and related issues based on sound public policy, the best available science, and efficient management. USDA is comprised of 29 agencies and offices, two of which participate in the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force; the 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 2018 Farm Bill provides 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´┐Ż 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.

Department of Defense (DoD) - Army

Department of Defense (DoD) - Navy

U.S. Coast Guard (USCG)

The Coast Guard, residing within the Department of Homeland Security, is a unique, multi-mission branch of the U.S. Military. As the nation's principal maritime law- enforcement service it is responsible for an array of maritime duties including safeguarding protected marine resources and habitats, ensuring safe and lawful commerce, performing search and rescue missions in severe conditions, and supporting national defense efforts. Approximately 42,000 active duty, 8,000 reserve, 8,300 civilian and 31,000 auxiliary personnel serve in the Coast Guard both ashore and afloat, to protect the maritime environment, defend America's borders, and further U.S. strategic interests. It performs 11 official missions including port and waterway security, drug interdiction, aids to navigation, search and rescue, living marine resources, marine safety, defense readiness, migrant interdiction, marine environmental protection, ice operations, and other law enforcement. The Coast Guard enforces laws that support sound management of our nation's fisheries, safeguard protected species and habitats, and conserve the marine environment as a public commonwealth. It 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. The Coast Guard serves as America's voice in the International Maritime Organization (IMO), and participates in multiple international oversight bodies, addressing maritime issues at the global scale. It is actively engaged in several Federal Advisory Committees that bear on domestic policy for our nation's marine resources.

U.S. Department of Justice (USDOJ)

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 thousands of active cases. Among its principal responsibilities are bringing civil and criminal cases against those who violate federal pollution-control laws; bringing and defending cases under federal wildlife laws; handling litigation concerning the management of fisheries and other marine resources; and representing federal agencies in suits related to public lands and natural resources.

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)

The mission of NASA is to lead innovative and sustainable exploration to enable human expansion across the solar system and develop a better understanding of our own Earth using unique global observations from space, air, sea, and land. The Research and Analysis Program(R&A) within NASA's Earth Science Division (ESD) works to advance our scientific understanding of Earth as a system and its response to natural and human-induced changes, and to improve our ability to predict climate, weather, and natural hazards. The (R&A) within NASA's Applied Sciences program, also within ESD, seeks to utilize NASA's unique observations to enable informed decision-making for agriculture, water and food security, urban planning, disaster preparedness and response, transportation, climate and weather, and other applications that benefit life on Earth. Given the global reach of the Earth's oceans and their extensive interactions with the atmosphere, cryosphere, and solid earth, remotely observing these ecosystems is essential to understand the Earth and its changing climate. NASA ESD supports research specifically focused on ocean and coastal studies, with primary objectives to describe, understand, and predict the time-varying, three-dimensional circulation of the ocean and the biological, ecological, and biogeochemical regimes of the upper ocean via remote sensing data, including those from space, aircraft, and other suborbital platforms.

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 $8.3 billion (FY 2022). NSF funds reach all 50 states by issuing nearly 12,000 new grants to individuals, small groups, and research centers. Many of the NSF core programs support work on coral reef research, such as Biological Oceanography (BO), Chemical Oceanography (CO), Marine Geology and Geophysics (MGG), and Physical Oceanography (PO) all in the Ocean Sciences Division of the Geosciences directorate. Research on corals and other specific reef organisms has also been supported by the Evolutionary Processes (EP), Integrative Organismal Systems (IOS),Systematics and Biodiversity Sciences (SBS), and other programs in the Biological Sciences Directorate. Additional integrative projects have previously been funded through special programs, for example Biodiversity on a Changing Plant (BoCP), Ecology and Evolution of Infectious Diseases (EEID), Coastlines and People (CoPe), Long-term Ecological Research (LTER), and the Convergence Accelerator Track E: Networked Blue Economy.

State and Territory Members

Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI)

The Division of Coastal Resources Management (DCRM), organized under the Bureau of Environmental and Coastal Quality (BECQ), was established in 1983 to promote conservation and wise development around the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Island's coastal resources. DCRM consists of the Coastal Zone Management Program (CZMP) and the Coral Reef Initiative (CRI), which work cooperatively to achieve complementary goals of the agency. The agency's mission is to protect and enhance the CNMI's coastal resources for residents and visitors through effective and adaptive resource management, interagency collaboration, and stakeholder engagement, in a manner that builds and sustains community resilience and well-being.

Commonwealth of Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico's Coral Reef Conservation and Management Program was created in 1999 by virtue of Puerto Rico Law 147 of 1999, which declared as a public policy "the protection, preservation, and conservation of coral reefs in Puerto Rico's territorial waters for the benefit and enjoyment of these and future generations". The Department of Natural and Environmental Resources (DNER) is the local agency responsible for this and in charge of preventing continued and irreparable damage to coral reefs and associated marine ecosystems.

Effective July 23, 2020, Law 72 declared coral reefs in Puerto Rico as essential structures for coastal protection on the island and provided the Department of Natural and Environmental Resources with the power to adopt or amend all necessary regulations that aligns with this declaration and to seek state and federal funds for the protection of Puerto Rico's coral reefs.

State of Florida

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) is the state's lead agency for environmental management and stewardship protecting our air, water and land. DEP is divided into three primary areas: Land and Recreation programs acquire and protect lands for preservation and recreation. DEP oversees 175 state parks and trails and more than 12 million acres of public lands and 4 million acres of coastal uplands and submerged lands. Regulatory programs safeguard natural resources by overseeing permitting and compliance activities that protect air and water quality, and manage waste cleanups. Ecosystems Restoration programs protect and improve water quality and aquatic resources including America's Everglades, Florida's iconic springs and Florida's world-renowned coastal resources. DEP works with communities, local governments and other agencies to protect and restore water quality and supply and to provide funding assistance for water restoration and infrastructure projects, as well as coordinates the protection of Florida's submerged lands and coastal areas. The FDEP Office of Resilience and Coastal Protection is responsible for the management of Florida's 42 Aquatic Preserves, three National Estuarine Research Reserves, the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, the Coral Reef Conservation Program, and the Coral Protection and Restoration Program. The office also oversees comprehensive beach and inlet management; the Resilient Florida grant program, Coastal Zone Management, Florida Seafloor Mapping Initiative, Clean Boating Programs and the implementation of ecosystem restoration projects to prepare Florida's coastal communities and state-managed lands for the effects of sea level rise, coastal flooding, erosion and storms.

The FDEP Coral Reef Conservation Program is coordinating the implementation of Florida's Local Action Strategy and Southeast Florida Coral Reef Initiative. It also promotes and coordinates research, monitoring, partnerships, and stakeholder participation in the protection of southeast Florida's reefs. The Coral Protection and Restoration Program is leading the state's response effort to Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease and the state's comprehensive restoration strategy for Florida's Coral Reef.

State of Hawai'i

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. DAR coordinates monitoring efforts across federal and academic partners and the Anuenue Fisheries Research Center's restoration and sea urchin hatchery.

Territory of Guam

The Guam Coral Reef Initiative (GCRI) was formalized in 1997 by Executive Order 97-10 (later superseded by E.O. 12-05), which established an administrative mechanism to effectively manage and conserve the island's coral reef ecosystems. Since 2019, activities of the GCRI and partners have been guided by the five target outcomes for coral reef management outlined in the Guam Coral Reef Resilience Strategy: 1) Effective fisheries management; 2) Decreased land-based sources of pollution; 3) Enhanced reef response and restoration; 4) Sustainable recreational use and tourism; and 5) Human community resilience and climate change adaptation.

The GCRI is an interagency program, with staff based at both the Bureau of Statistics and Plans and the Guam Department of Agriculture (DOAG). DOAG, which is home to Guam's Coral Reef Point of Contact to the US CRTF, aims to protect and promote the agricultural resources and economy of Guam through research, quarantine, control, and conservation. The agency regulates and permits activities that may impact Guam's environment, advocates for sustainable agricultural practices and forest stewardship, leads efforts to control and eradicate invasive species, conducts public education and outreach to support conservation, and enforces laws related to the island's marine and terrestrial resources.

Territory of American Samoa

The American Samoa Coral Reef Advisory Group (ASCRAG) was established by the Governor's Office to protect and conserve coral reefs for the benefit of the people of American Samoa, the United States, and the world. CRAG was created via the Interagency cooperative agreement (ICA) collaboration of seven local agencies: the Department of Marine and Wildlife Resources (DMWR), the Department of Commerce (DOC)'s Coastal Zone Management Program (AS-CMP), the National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa (NMSAS), the American Samoa Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the American Samoa Community College (ASCC), the National Park of American Samoa (NPSA), and the US Fish and Wildlife Service's (FWS) Rose Atoll National Wildlife Refuge and Marine National Monument. With the help of these seven member agencies, CRAG strives 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 Marshall Islands: Office of Environmental Planning and Policy Coordination

Republic of Palau

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