AIC Chair’s Report, Sept 2016: Priorities, updates, challenges, & accomplishments


by Carey Morishige Martinez, Executive director, AIC Secretariat

The U.S. All Islands Coral Reef Committee (AIC) is still in the Marianas (until Saturday) participating in the 36th U.S. Coral Reef Task Force (USCRTF) Meeting, but wanted to share with you some of what’s been happening since the AIC last met in February 2016.

In the Marianas, warming waters have already caused coral reef bleaching–for yet another consecutive year. Florida continues to deal with an unprecedented coral disease outbreak. And, in other jurisdictions grounded vessels, invasive species, and land-based pollution impacts, to name a few, continue.

For the AIC, strengthening federal-jurisdiction integration and partnerships, the Coral Reef Management Fellowship Program, and Coral Reef Conservation Act (of 2000) reauthorization remain top priorities.

Now, more than ever, it is critical that we continue to work together to make a positive difference for our coral reefs.

Towards that end, the approval at the 36th USCRTF Meeting of two very important documents (“U.S. Coral Reef Task Force Strategy, FY2016-2021” and “U.S. Coral Reef Task Force Watershed Partnership Initiative Strategy”) is a huge accomplishment and the AIC is proud to have helped build both documents.

For more information and details, check out the newest AIC Chair’s Report presented at the 36th USCRTF Meeting in the Marianas.  

Read through it here or download it here.

New Tools Help in Ridge-to-Reef Watershed Management

Hot of the presses from the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force are two new tools to help in effective watershed management from ridge-to-reef!

[modified from the NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program website]

Priority-Ecosystem-Indicators1) Priority Ecosystem Indicators:
The first is a series of ecological indicators and measurements to evaluate the success of existing watershed management efforts. The indicators look at coral communities, as well as sediment and water quality. Nearly all were selected from existing national-scale monitoring efforts by federal agencies.


Pages from FINAL_Programmatic_Checklist_version_2_10.22.152) Programmatic Checklist:
The second is a user-friendly checklist
that walks watershed coordinators through a series of questions to help them implement a successful ridge-to-reef watershed management plan. The checklist helps gauge support from stakeholders–including local groups and federal agencies–and documents overall progress as a ridge-to-reef watershed management plan is implemented. The checklist is meant to be completed on an annual basis to track progress.

You can download them both at

AIC Chair’s Report: Priorities, updates, challenges, & accomplishments

AIC Chair's Report - Feb 2016

by Carey Morishige Martinez, Executive director, AIC Secretariat

In the three months since the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force last met, efforts to conserve and manage our coral reefs have continued. Thankfully, the winter season brought cooler waters and a much needed reprieve for our coral reefs, many of which have suffered back-to-back years of bleaching. However, in areas like southeast Florida, the number of corals impacted by an unprecedented disease event continues to grow and the cause(s) of the disease has yet to be identified.

Coral bleaching from warming oceans, ocean acidification, Crown of Thorns Starfish outbreaks, ship groundings, coral disease outbreaks, invasive algae, land-based sources of pollution, and so many other things impact our coral reefs each day.

We must stretch beyond the ‘status quo’ and work together, as federal agencies and jurisdictions, to make a difference NOW.

AIC Chair's Report, Feb. 2016At each biannual U.S. Coral Reef Task Force (USCRTF) meeting, the AIC Chair presents a report of AIC priorities, challenges, and accomplishments in every AIC jurisdiction and the Freely Associated States since the previous Task Force meeting. Check out the newest AIC Chair’s Report presented at the 35th USCRTF meeting in Washington D.C.  

Read through it here or download it here.


DC, here we come!

Heading to DCby Carey Morishige Martinez, Executive director, AIC Secretariat

We’re heading off again to Washington DC for the 33rd US Coral Reef Task Force Meeting, which will be held February 17-19. Taking full advantage of our time together, the AIC will begin our meetings on February 13, working straight through the weekend and President’s Day. What can I say, we’re committed!

We’ll be having a one and a half day AIC Meeting where we’ll discuss the AIC Strategic and Action Plans and focus on fleshing out and moving forward in our AIC priority issue areas. As typical whenever we’re in DC, our members will be meeting with their Congressional representatives to update them on AIC endeavors and priorities. We’re also we’re hoping to fit in a couple of partner meetings as well.

Phew! The new year is always a busy time! For updates and more info, follow us on Facebook or visit our website.

Strategically Planned Corals?

Strategically planned coralsby Carey Morishige Martinez, Executive director, AIC Secretariat

You’re probably scratching your head at the title right now, but at least it got your attention (posts with “strategic planning” in the title probably don’t get a ton of reads).

The AIC is once again heading off to cold (for most of us) Washington DC next month for the 33rd US Coral Reef Task Force meeting, and of course, some meetings of our own. A common theme this time around–strategic planning.

Admittedly, the thought of strategic planning probably makes you groan a little on the inside. For as much work as is involved and for as many ways you can go about strategic planning, it is absolutely worth it–if done well!

The AIC has been working on its strategic plan (a journey that we began in Summer 2013). With committee members in the US Virgin Islands all the way across the Date Line to Saipan, we’ve had to master the art of virtual communications, effective emails and calls, and making the most efficient use of any and all face-to-face time. We’re certainly not perfect, but practice makes perfect, right?

The neat thing about our process so far: Our committee members really want a plan that will get us to actual outcomes in the next five years and take us closer to our vision of thriving coral reef ecosystems, effectively managed to protect their ecological, social, and economic value for future generations. And even better we have partners, like the NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program, Dept. of the Interior’s Office of Insular Affairs, and many others, that want the same thing.

In fact, the US Coral Reef Task Force is embarking on its own strategic planning journey and the AIC is already on board! (see the USCRTF’s previous strategy in Resolution 25.1 – click on ’25th Meeting’)

So, strategically planned corals?

I say, YES! 🙂