NOAA 2005-R441
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Aja Sae-Kung
5/9/05
NOAA News Releases 2005
NOAA Home Page
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NOAA DEDICATES NEW CORAL REEF RESEARCH FACILITY

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration today inaugurated its third coral reef institute, The Caribbean Coral Reef Institute (CCRI) at the University of Puerto Rico-Mayaguez. The CCRI is modeled after the highly successful Hawaii Coral Reef Initiative, and is focused exclusively on the acute problems of Caribbean coral reefs.

The main objective of the CCRI is to aid in the management and conservation of Puerto Rico’s coral reefs by providing timely, relevant information to the Puerto Rico Department of Natural and Environmental Resources and the scientific community at large.

“By establishing this new Caribbean Coral Reef Institute, we are making a critical investment in providing the science and solutions managers need to help sustain coral reef resources,” said Tim Keeney, NOAA's deputy assistant secretary for oceans and atmosphere. “Establishment of this new institute could not come at a better time for Caribbean coral reef ecosystems. As most of us are aware, coral reefs are under great stress due to many factors, both natural and human-induced. In order to better manage and protect these great treasures, we not only need the desire to manage them, we also need the best scientific information to understand how to manage them effectively.”

Three projects are targeted at the basic assessment of coral reef resources, as called for in the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force Action Plan and the Coral Reef Conservation Act of 2000. The projects include: conducting habitat mapping of the western shelf of Puerto Rico, assessing the status of reef resources, and assessing fishery impacts. Other projects will target the ecological basis for zoning at Mona Island, understanding the social processes of Marine Protected Areas implementation at La Parguera, and locating and characterizing fish spawning aggregation sites as critical habitat. An additional project targets a new type of cyanobacterial epizoic of corals, a newly identified threat to reefs in Puerto Rico.

The CCRI is a Congressionally-directed program, managed by NOAA Ocean Service, National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science, Center for Sponsored Coastal Ocean Research, Coastal Ocean Program. Conducted in collaboration the University of Puerto Rico, the Polytechnic University of Puerto Rico, and NOAA’s Undersea Research Program, the CCRI integrates research and monitoring capabilities of its partners to provide valuable information to resource managers.

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 our nation’s coastal and marine resources.

On the Web:

NOAA: http://www.noaa.gov

CCRI: http://www.cop.noaa.gov/ecosystems/coralreefs/current/ccri-factsheet-cr.html