Heeding a Call to Action—US Coral Reefs: The Untapped Potential of the Clean Water Act

This editorial, by the US Environmental Protection Agency, calls attention to the Clean Water Act (CWA), which can provide an opportunity to incorporate scientific knowledge into the management of coral reefs in for US waters. While MPAs are the dominant approach to coral reef protection, there is recognition that areas outside of MPAs must be monitored, protected, and restored. The authors propose that the CWA can be used for this purpose. The CWA provides a mandate to “restore and maintain the physical, chemical, and biological integrity of the Nation’s waters”, which includes all territorial seas within three miles of land (Secs.101 and 502). Although often perceived and interpreted as only a tool to address end-of-pipe contaminants, the CWA provides a regulatory framework that can potentially support protection of coral reefs. The key to engage the CWA to protect coastal resources, as indicated by the authors, is to formally document what is known about the condition and incorporate the knowledge into regulatory and reporting processes.

Author: Fore, L.S., J.R. Karr, W.S. Fisher, P. Bradley, and W.S. Davis
Year: 2009
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Marine Pollution Bulletin 58(10): 1421-1423. doi: 10.1016/j.marpolbul.2009.06.00

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