Member Type Country
United States of America
The United States of America is represented at ICRI meetings by the Department of State and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The Department of State leads the United States’ foreign policy through diplomacy, advocacy, and assistance.
NOAA is the federal government agency that researches, conserves, and manages coastal and marine ecosystems and resources.
The Department of State’s Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs (State/OES) and NOAA’s Coral Reef Conservation Program (the Coral Program) work together to co-lead U.S. participation in the International Coral Reef Initiative (ICRI). As the current Secretariat of ICRI, State/OES and the Coral Program will collaborate on ICRI initiatives, projects, working groups, and events. The United States was the ICRI Secretariat with Mexico from 2007 to 2009 and served as ICRI’s first chair from 1994-1996.
The United States is one of the eight founding members of ICRI, working at local, regional, national, and international scales on coral reef protection, conservation, and restoration.
17,000 square kilometers – The area covered by coral reefs within the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone.
USD1.8 Billion in Protection – Annually, U.S. coral reefs provide flood protection benefits of $1.8 billion in averted damages to property and economic activity (2019).
U.S. jurisdictions with coral reefs include American Samoa, Florida, Guam, Hawaii, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Uninhabited areas of the United States with coral reefs include Flower Garden Banks, Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument (which is also a World Heritage Site), and the Pacific Remote Islands. The Coral Program also works internationally in the Coral Triangle, Micronesia, South Pacific, and wider Caribbean.
Current estimates suggest that approximately ninety percent of U.S. reefs are located in the Western Pacific; the remainder is located near Florida, Texas, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The largest U.S. Marine Protected Areas are home to coral reefs: Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument (1.1515 million square kilometers/585,000 square miles), Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument (1.269 million square kilometers/490,000 square miles), Marianas Trench Marine National Monument and State, Local, Marianas Trench National Wildlife Refuge (96,000 square miles), and National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa and Rose Atoll National Marine Monument (14,000 square miles). More information on MPAs can be found here.
Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs
The Bureau strives to provide American leadership, diplomacy, and scientific cooperation to conserve and protect the global environment, ocean, health, and space for the prosperity, peace, and security of this and future generations.
NOAA’s Coral Reef Conservation Program
Established in 2000 by the Coral Reef Conservation Act, the Coral Program uses a resilience-based management approach, focused on conservation that supports the ability of corals to withstand and recover from stress. This approach brings together expertise from across NOAA and other federal agencies, state and territorial governments, academic institutions, and nonprofit organizations to address existing and emerging issues. Focal areas include climate change, land-based sources of pollution, unsustainable fishing practices, disease, and coral restoration.
Using strong partnerships, core “ridge-to-reef” science and conservation activities include
- The National Coral Reef Monitoring program, a unique and progressive monitoring program that includes biological, climatic, and human connections components of coral reef systems.
- Forecasting and modeling of oceanographic conditions, coral bleaching and disease, runoff, and more;
- Capacity-building efforts, including training and workshops, to help local, state, and federal partners implement projects that address threats and restore habitats;
- Support of the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force, the International Coral Reef Initiative, the Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network, and others.
- Strategic communications and outreach to policymakers, decision-makers, fellow scientists and managers, and the conservation-minded public.
Last Updated: 21 November 2023