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Issue Spotlight: Coral Reefs

Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs
U.S. Department of State

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Nestled in tropical ocean waters, coral reefs provide invaluable resources to both human and marine life. Coral reefs are estimated to contain one-quarter of the undersea world's diverse species while covering less than 0.2% of the ocean floor.

photograph of coral reef

However, coral reefs are in serious danger due to both natural and man-made causes. Population growth and development has altered the coral reef environment. Destructive fishing practices, land-based sources of pollution such as agricultural runoff, and excessive coastal development all have detrimental effects on delicate reefs. Global warming due to increased concentrations of greenhouse gases may result in sea-level rise and higher ocean temperatures, both of which have the potential to be destructive to corals.

 

U.S. Efforts to Preserve the Reefs

The Administration has supported both domestic and international efforts to protect and monitor coral reefs. In 1994, then-Under Secretary for Global Affairs Tim Wirth and the Department of State launched the International Coral Reef Initiative, a consortium of governments, NGOs, and industries to protect, restore, and preserve the world's coral reefs. And at the first meeting of the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force in Florida's Biscayne National Park on October 19-20, 1998, the Department of State and the U.S. Agency for International Development pledged their leadership to redouble federal efforts to stem the global decline of coral reefs.

1994 International Coral Reef Initiative
Coral Reef Issue Papers. Fact sheets released for October 1998 U.S. Coral Reef Task Force meeting.
Coral Bleaching, Coral Mortality, and Global Climate Change. Report presented to the March 1999 U.S. Coral Reef Task Force meeting.
Selected Speeches and Statements
Recommended Web Sites
Past Activities and Events

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