WASHINGTON, D.C., Dec. 01, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) today announced $1.2 million in grants to support community-based efforts to improve the health and resilience of coral reefs in Florida, Hawaii, Guam, American Samoa, and the Caribbean. The grants will leverage nearly $1.3 million in matching contributions to generate a total conservation impact of more than $2.5 million.

The grants were awarded through the Coral Reef Conservation Fund, a 20-year conservation partnership between NFWF and NOAA’s Coral Reef Conservation Program (CRCP), with major funding this year from Aramco Americas and additional support from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service.

“This year, we are excited to celebrate 20 years of dedication to coral reef conservation, and we welcome Aramco Americas as our newest partner in our ongoing efforts,” said Jeff Trandahl, executive director and CEO of NFWF. “Coral reefs are critically important habitats for thousands of marine species, and they also offer coastal communities protection against storms and provide many other social and economic benefits. For two decades, the Coral Reef Conservation Fund has made possible new and innovative ways to help coral reefs remain healthy and resilient.”

“Joining with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation extends the experience of Aramco Americas and our affiliates in marine environmental protection and our ongoing commitment to coral reef preservation and restoration,” said Mohammad Alshammari, President & CEO, Aramco Americas.

The 11 grants announced today support projects to 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
  • Building capacity for active restoration efforts to restore degraded reefs
  • Investing in innovation and tools for managers to increase their impact

“We are delighted to celebrate 20 years of both the NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program and the program’s partnership with NFWF,” said Jennifer Koss, director of NOAA CRCP. “The Coral Reef Conservation Fund supports the nation’s Blue Economy by funding the latest research and increasing capacity for coral reef conservation." 

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

  • The University of California – Santa Barbara ($61,600) will fill knowledge gaps regarding the relationship between herbivorous fish biomass and coral reef condition, and how this relationship impacts the resilience of coral reefs in American Samoa. The project will identify species that both prevent macroalgae from increasing and remove macroalgae once abundant to prioritize species and inform fisheries management options.
  • Coral Restoration Foundation ($99,900) will support active coral restoration at four sites in the Florida Keys to benefit endangered coral species. The project will improve 27.51 acres of reef habitat through increased coral propagation and direct reef restoration.
  • The University of Guam ($118,700) will develop a genetic toolkit to detect, identify and quantify stress before the onset of physical symptoms in two of the most common and important coral species off the coast of Guam. The project will help reef managers identify reefs under stress, pinpoint the causative stressors and target resilient individuals to propagate for restoration actions.

Since 2000, the Coral Reef Conservation Fund has made over 400 awards to coral conservation projects with more than $20 million in federal and non-federal funds which leveraged $27 million in matching funds for a total conservation impact of $48 million.

A complete list of the 2020 grants made through the Coral Reef Conservation Fund is available here. To learn about applying for a grant in 2021, please click 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 and individual partners, NFWF has funded more than 5,000 organizations and generated a total conservation impact of $6.1 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 the Natural Resources Conservation Service 
Since 1935, the Natural Resources Conservation Service has helped America’s private landowners and managers conserve their soil, water, and other natural resources. NRCS provides technical assistance based on sound science and offers financial assistance for many conservation activities.

About Aramco Americas
Aramco Services Company (d/b/a Aramco Americas) is the 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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Rob Blumenthal
National Fish and Wildlife Foundation
(202) 857-0166
rob.blumenthal@nfwf.org