NFWF Announces $1.5 Million in Grants from Coral Reef Conservation Fund

Eight grants will address threats and develop tools for restoration and management of coral reefs in U.S. Atlantic, Caribbean, and Pacific waters

Washington, District of Columbia, UNITED STATES


Washington, D.C., Sept. 12, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) today announced $1.5 million in grants to support efforts to improve the health and resilience of coral reefs in Florida, Hawai‘i, Guam and Puerto Rico. The grants will leverage $1.5 million in matching contributions for a total conservation impact of $3 million.

The grants were awarded through the Coral Reef Conservation Fund (CRCF), a 20-year conservation partnership between NFWF and NOAA’s Coral Reef Conservation Program (CRCP), with major funding for a third year from Aramco Americas.

“Coral reefs have tremendous ecological, economic and cultural significance, but these critical ecosystems suffer from ongoing stressors, such as changing ocean conditions and land-based sources of pollution,” said Jeff Trandahl, executive director and CEO of NFWF. “For more than two decades, the Coral Reef Conservation Fund has supported innovative conservation efforts to foster coral reef health and resiliency.” 

The projects supported by the eight grants announced today will address NFWF’s three primary focus areas to help protect functioning and resilient coral reef system in an increasingly urbanized and changing coastal environment: 

  • Increasing the resiliency of ecologically important reefs by reducing human-based threats like land-based sources of pollution and overfishing
  • Promoting active restoration efforts to restore degraded reefs
  • Investing in innovation and tools for managers to increase their capacity and decision-making power

“These are precisely the kinds of projects we need to be doing more of and at larger scales,” said Jennifer Koss, director of NOAA’s Coral Reef Conservation Program. “They achieve both research and conservation goals by addressing local threats to coral reefs and restoring corals to recover these valuable ecosystems and the services they provide to communities around the world.”

Over the past three years, Aramco’s support has helped to fund 37 community-based grants, each addressing the challenges of reef restoration and preservation in creative groundbreaking ways.  

“Aramco supports conservation efforts around the world and these grants put into action innovative thinking and practices to restore the health and resilience of coral reefs for the future,” said Nabeel I. AlAfaleg, president and CEO, Aramco Americas.  

This year’s Coral Reef Conservation Fund grant recipients include: 

  • Maui Nui Marine Resource Council ($300,000) will implement recommendations in the Southwest Maui Watershed Plan to reduce nonpoint source pollutants including chemicals, sediment and excess nutrients that affect coral health. This project will add 1,800 feet of fencing and explore new bio-friendly fertilizers in the Hapapa Watershed to enhance the resiliency of the Kihei reef tract by reducing pollutants from land-based run-off.
  • Institute for Socio-Ecological Research ($270,0000) will rear and restock reef building corals and sea urchins (and other herbivores) to the coral reefs in the Canal Luis Peña Natural Reserve in Culebra Island. This project will provide over 20,000 coral microfragments to the Sociedad Ambiente Marino, for outplanting around Culebra.
  • Coral Restoration Foundation, Inc. ($205,000) will expand current coral nursery capacity in direct support of the overall efforts and goals of the Mission Iconic Reefs coral reef restoration initiative. Project will expand on the grantee’s current success in establishing in-situ and ex-situ techniques for propagating pillar coral and great star coral to increase the available stocks for future restoration efforts.
  • The University of Hawaii ($176,000) will collect and assess samples from a range of water quality conditions in the Kahekili coral reef ecosystem of West Maui, Hawai‘i. Project will monitor the changes in water quality over this time period and as wastewater use returns to upgrades levels and the effects on coral reef metabolism as a measure of coral reef health. Using tipping points learned from this study, the grantee will develop water quality targets for Maui’s south shore.
  • Protectores de Cuencas ($175,000) will build capacity in Culebra to combat threats of coastal habitat degradation, land-source pollution, and poor water quality. The maintenance to the sediment basin is expected to reduce sediment reaching nearshore coral reef and seagrass habitat in Ensenada Honda Bay. This project will also establish necessary tools and capacity to launch focused coral reef conservation efforts at newly prioritized reef sites on Culebra Island.
  • Reef Renewal USA, Inc. ($150,000) will collect, propagate, and outplant ten coral species: Colpophyllia natans, Diploria labyrinthiformis, Pseudodiploria strigosa, Pseudodiploria clivosa, Orbicella faveolata, Orbicella annularis, Orbicella franksi, Montastrea cavernosa, Dichocoenia stokesii, and Solenastrea bournoni for the Mission Iconic Reefs program. This project will develop a large scale producing and outplanting system for ten important species of coral for the Mission Iconic Reefs Program in the Florida Keys.
  • The University of Guam ($150,000) will test a new coral engineering approach using micro-fusion of coral fragments with identical genotypes from different environments to explore opportunities to increase resiliency. The project will establish an original exploratory approach to contribute to scientific advances in efficient active restoration techniques.
  • The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Fish and Wildlife Research Institute ($100,000) will conduct a study to observe the effects that spotted lobster (P. guttatus) may have on coral restoration. This project will identify to what degree the trophic role of Spotted Spiny Lobsters may be harnessed to aid coral restoration efforts by manipulating spotted lobster densities and estimating corallivore consumption by lobsters.

Since 2000, the Coral Reef Conservation Fund has made 408 awards to coral conservation projects with $22 million in federal and non-federal funds which leveraged more than $29 million in matching funds for a total conservation impact of $51 million.

A complete list of the 2022 grants made through the Coral Reef Conservation Fund is available here.    

About the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation
Chartered by Congress in 1984, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) protects and restores the nation’s fish, wildlife, plants and habitats. Working with federal, corporate, foundation and individual partners, NFWF has funded more than 6,000 organizations and generated a total conservation impact of $7.4 billion. Learn more at www.nfwf.org

About the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
NOAA’s mission is to understand and predict changes in the Earth’s environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and to conserve and manage our coastal and marine resources. Learn more at www.noaa.gov

About Aramco Americas
Aramco Services Company (d/b/a Aramco Americas) is a U.S.-based subsidiary of Saudi Aramco, a world leader in integrated energy and chemicals, and has had a presence in the U.S. for more than 60 years. Aramco Americas is a contributor to the U.S. energy sector through research and development, venture fund activities, asset ownership, as well as technology and digital transformation. The company is headquartered in Houston, and maintains offices in New York, Washington D.C., Boston, and Detroit. Aramco Americas is committed to being a positive contributor in the communities where its employees live and work, and to making a difference through outreach that benefits the arts, geosciences, education and the environment. Please visit americas.aramco.com to learn more.

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