In the past decade, increased awareness regarding the declining condition of U.S. coral reefs has prompted various actions by governmental and non-governmental organizations. Presidential Executive Order 13089 created the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force (USCRTF) in 1998 to coordinate federal and state/territorial activities (Clinton, 1998), and the Coral Reef Conservation Act of 2000 provided Congressional funding for activities to conserve these important ecosystems, including mapping, monitoring and assessment projects carried out through the support of NOAA’s CRCP. Numerous collaborations forged among federal agencies and state, local, non-governmental, academic and private partners now support a variety of monitoring activities. This report shares the results of many of these monitoring activities, relying heavily on quantitative, spatially-explicit data that has been collected in the recent past and comparisons with historical data where possible. The success of this effort can be attributed to the dedication of over 270 report contributors who comprised the expert writing teams in the jurisdictions and contributed to the National Level Activities and National Summary chapters. The scope and content of this report are the result of their dedication to this considerable collaborative effort.\ud \ud Ultimately, the goal of this report is to answer the difficult but vital question: what is the condition of U.S. coral reef ecosystems? The report attempts to base a response on the best available science emerging from coral reef ecosystem monitoring programs in 15 jurisdictions across the country. However, few monitoring programs have been in place for longer than a decade, and many have been initiated only within the past two to five years. A few jurisdictions are just beginning to implement monitoring programs and face challenges stemming from a lack of basic habitat maps and other ecosystem data in addition to adequate training, capacity building, and technical support. There is also a general paucity of historical data describing the condition of ecosystem resources before major human impacts occurred, which limits any attempt to present the current conditions within an historical context and contributes to the phenomenon of shifting baselines (Jackson, 1997; Jackson et al., 2001; Pandolfi et al., 2005)
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