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NOAA News Releases 2004
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Billy Causey Lauded as “Coral Reef Champion”

The United States Coral Reef Task Force today recognized Billy Causey, superintendent of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, as a “Coral Reef Champion” for his continuing efforts in promoting the protection of coral reefs. The interagency task force meets this week in Miami. NOAA is an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

During his 14 years as superintendent of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, Causey has established a network of marine zones that set the standard in the United States for marine stewardship. The sanctuary’s largest zone, the 151 square-nautical-mile Tortugas Ecological Reserve, now serves as an international model for designing fully protected marine reserves. Causey also serves a critical role in advocating for the interests of Florida Bay and the Florida Keys reef tract in planning for the restoration of the South Florida ecosystem.

Causey has traveled the world to spread the word about the need to protect coral reefs and bring management strategies employed in the Florida Keys to other countries. He has hosted numerous foreign visitors eager to learn how the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary balances protection of a fragile coral reef ecosystem with a bustling tourism and fishing-based economy.

“Billy Causey’s name is synonymous with marine resource stewardship,” said retired Navy Vice Adm. Conrad C. Lautenbacher, Ph.D., under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator. “We recognize him for championing coral reef protection in the U.S. and for partnering with marine resource managers worldwide to sustain ocean resources. Billy places a strong emphasis on working with all affected stakeholders and this has been a key to his success as a sanctuary manager.”

Causey holds a B.A. from the University of Corpus Christi, an M.S. from Texas A & I University, and completed several years of postgraduate work at the University of South Florida. He has specialized in coral reef ecology, reef fish and marine protected areas. Causey has worked as a National Park Service ranger, a commercial diver and a research assistant. From 1972 until 1983, Causey owned and managed Aplysia Aquarium Collecting and Research Center in partnership with his wife Laura. In 1983, he became manager of the Looe Key National Marine Sanctuary. He has served as the superintendent of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary since its designation in 1990.

Through the coordinated efforts of its members, including representatives of 12 federal agencies, the governors of seven states and territories, and the leaders of the Freely Associated States, the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force has helped lead the nation’s efforts to protect and manage valuable coral reef ecosystems in the U.S. and internationally.

The Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary protects 2,896 square nautical miles of critical marine habitat, including coral reef, hard bottom, seagrass meadows, mangrove communities and sand flats. NOAA and the state of Florida manage the sanctuary. For more information, visit

The National Marine Sanctuary Program seeks to increase the public awareness of America’s maritime heritage by conducting scientific research, monitoring, exploration and educational programs. Today, 13 national marine sanctuaries encompass more than 18,000 square miles of America’s ocean and Great Lakes natural and cultural resources.

NOAA’s Ocean Service manages the National Marine Sanctuary Program, and is dedicated to exploring, understanding, conserving, and restoring the nation’s coasts and oceans. NOAA Ocean Service balances environmental protection with economic prosperity in fulfilling its mission of promoting safe navigation, supporting coastal communities, sustaining coastal habitats and mitigating coastal hazards. To learn more about NOAA Ocean Service and the National Marine Sanctuary Program, please visit

NOAA is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and providing environmental stewardship of the nation’s coastal and marine resources.

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