Coral reef and fish

Coral Reefs

Since 2000, NFWF has responded to the alarming decline in both the quantity and productivity of the world’s coral reef ecosystems through multiple coral conservation initiatives that aim to improve management, increase public awareness, and reduce threats to coral reefs both domestically and internationally. NFWF works with local, state, federal and regional partners to explore new techniques for addressing persistent, practical challenges faced by coral reef managers – such as non-point source pollution, over harvest of functional reef species, vessel damage and environmental stressors.


Coral reefs are one of the world’s most valuable ecosystems in terms of ecological, economic and cultural capital. However, recent reports indicate that 58 to 70 percent of coral reefs globally are directly threatened by human-associated activities and increasing global bleaching events. Overfishing, intensive boating and recreational impacts, and land-based sources of pollution in the form of sediments and excess nutrients threaten coral ecosystems and reduce their resilience to environmental stressors.

NFWF seeks to promote healthy coral reef ecosystems characterized by high fish biomass, low macroalgal cover, high coral recruitment, and the provision of key ecosystem services. To help achieve this vision, NFWF tracks progress under the Coral Reef Conservation Fund towards three primary milestones for U.S. coral reefs. 

  1. Threat reduction at priority reefs that are important seed reefs to broader reef complexes to alleviate local stressors and promote healthy, coral-dominated, and resilient reefs. 
  2. Promote active coral restoration in which nursery-grown corals are out-planted to natural reefs, by building capacity for propagation and direct restoration of damaged or degraded reefs. 
  3. Advance coral science and restoration by supporting testing and refinement of best management practices, documentation of case studies, and dissemination of information to benefit the coral conservation and management communities across the U.S. 

In 2020, NFWF celebrated its 20th anniversary supporting coral conservation. Since 2000, the program has awarded $23 million across 417 projects, leveraging more than $31 million in conservation resources. Grants have assisted broad-scale coral reef management by establishing new techniques for assessing and monitoring reef health and new fishery management models. Site-specific initiatives have developed and implemented watershed management plans, reduced sediment erosion through stream bank stabilization, provided incentives or best management practices on agricultural lands, and supported capacity-building of management and conservation organizations to sustain outcomes.

NFWF manages the Coral Reef Conservation Fund in partnership with NOAA’s Coral Reef Conservation Program and Aramco, with additional support from USDA’s Natural Resource Conservation Service.

Application Information

05/31/2023 Coral Reef Conservation Fund 2023 Request for Proposals - CLOSED View Now
02/16/2022 10 Tips for Grantees View Now
04/13/2021 Interim Programmatic Report Guidance View Now
04/13/2021 Final Programmatic Report Guidance View Now
09/19/2023 Program Fact Sheet Download the PDF
09/19/2023 2023 Grant Slate Download the PDF
09/12/2022 2022 Grant Slate Download the PDF
10/26/2021 2021 Grant Slate Download the PDF
04/13/2021 Coral Reefs Program Investment Strategy Download the PDF
12/03/2019 Coral Reef Assessment Tool Download the PDF
12/07/2019 Past Grant Recipients View Website
12/08/2019 West Maui Ridge to Reefs Website View Website
Staff Representatives

Program Director, Marine Conservation

Regional Program Coordinator