Contact: Ben Sherman

NOAA News Releases 2004
NOAA Home Page
NOAA Public Affairs


The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Marine Sanctuary Program and the Coral Reef Conservation Program, today signed a Memorandum of Agreement with the State of Florida and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority to improve coral reef resilience. Resilience is the natural ability of corals to survive and recover from stresses in the natural environment.

The partnership will emphasize coordinating scientific research, exchanging information on emerging management strategies, and developing joint projects. The partnership focuses on the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

“We are partnering the world’s preeminent coral managers who share the goal of improving coral reef resilience to ensure the long-term sustainability of coral reefs,” said retired Navy Vice Adm. Conrad C. Lautenbacher, Ph.D., under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator. “We all experience common challenges, and now we unify our efforts to exchange information on emerging management strategies and develop joint projects.”

The Australian Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Senator Ian Campbell, said in Canberra, Australia, today that the Australian Government was delighted to continue its close collaboration with the Untied States on marine environment issues.

“Both Australia and the United States are at the cutting edge of coral reef management and science. This U.S./Australia reef management partnership will enhance the already strong commitment that both countries have to improving the health and resilience of coral reefs throughout the world”, Senator Campbell said.

“Coral reefs face unprecedented threats due to the combined impacts of local, regional and global stressors,” said Richard W. Spinrad, Ph.D., assistant administrator for NOAA Ocean Service which oversees the U.S. National Marine Sanctuary Program. “In some cases, coral reef managers cannot address the causes of large-scale stressors, but they can take steps to support reef resilience, which is the basis of the agreement with our partners.”

“This unprecedented partnership reinforces Florida's commitment to protecting and restoring coral reefs,” said Florida Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Colleen M. Castille. “Sharing the latest science expands our ability to accelerate global research and improve water quality, wildlife habitat and the resiliency of reefs worldwide.”

Florida Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Colleen M. Castille and Australian Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority Director for Conservation, Biodiversity and World Heritage Jon Day joined White House Council on Environmental Quality Director, Jim Connaughton and NOAA representatives National Marine Sanctuary Program Director Daniel J. Basta, Office of Response and Restoration Director David Kennedy and Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary Superintendent Billy D. Causey in this agreement.

Managing to support coral reef resilience is a strategy that is emerging in response to large-scale threats, such as hurricanes or coral bleaching. While coral reef managers cannot directly affect the root cause of these large-scale threats, increasingly managers are faced with the resulting declines in coral reef condition. Management strategies to support resilience are similar to efforts to boost the human immune system and prevent disease.

NOAA’s 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, an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce, 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.

Florida is home to 41 aquatic preserves, three of the nation’s 26 National Estuarine Research Reserves and one of the largest underwater refuges in the world. To further protect the near-shore waters of the Florida Keys, the state and federal governments designated the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary as a “no discharge zone” and established the Tortugas Ecological Reserve -- one of the world’s largest marine reserves.

Drawing millions of visitors each year, Florida’s clear waters, world-class beaches and coral reefs support a $53 billion tourism industry, a $14 billion marine industry and a fishing industry that injects more than $6.6 billion a year into Florida’s communities.

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority is the principal adviser to the Commonwealth Government of Australia on the care and development of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, and is charged with providing for the protection, wise use, understanding and enjoyment of the Great Barrier Reef in perpetuity through the care and development of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

On the Web:


State of Florida DEP:

Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority: