NOAA report shows half of U.S. coral reefs in 'poor' or 'fair' condition

FORT LAUDERDALE, FL (KHNL) - Nearly half of coral reef ecosystems in the U.S. are in "poor" or "fair" condition, according to a new report released by The National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration.

The report, The State of Coral Reef Ecosystems of the United States and Pacific Freely Associated States: 2008, reveals that the nation's coral reef ecosystems continue to face intense threats from coastal development, fishing, sedimentation and recreational use.

"The report shows that this is a global issue," said Tim Keeney, deputy assistant secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and co-chair of the United States Coral Reef Task Force.  "While the report indicates reef in general are healthier in the Pacific than the Atlantic, even remote reefs are subject to threats stemming from climate change as well as illegal fishing and marine debris."

According to the report's authors, the conditions of the U.S. coral reefs have been declining for several decades.

The 569-page report details coral reef conditions in the U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Navassa Island, southeast Florida, the Florida Keys, Flower Garden Banks, the Main Hawaiian Islands, the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, American Samoa, the Pacific Remote Islands, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam and the Republic of Palau.