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$500,000 Available for Coral Restoration Projects in Honor of Coral Researcher Dr. Ruth Gates

November 12, 2021

As part of our efforts to restore resilient coral ecosystems, NOAA is announcing the availability of funding for coral restoration in 2022.

Outplanting staghorn coral Outplanting, or planting coral fragments grown in nurseries back onto reefs, is a type of restoration activity.

NOAA is announcing the availability of approximately $500,000 in Ruth Gates Coral Restoration Innovation Grant funding in 2022. These grants are part of our efforts to restore resilient coral ecosystems. They will support objectives identified within the NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program’s Strategic Plan and NOAA’s Action Plan on Coral Interventions.

We are seeking project proposals from non-federal partners to:

  • Advance scientific applications to help corals respond to threats, such as ocean warming or coral disease
  • Enhance the survival of sexually derived corals with the goal of increasing the range of traits within coral populations

As shallow-water, nearshore communities, coral reef ecosystems are ecologically linked to adjacent watersheds and are highly vulnerable to human activity. Coral reefs are rapidly declining in health due to local stressors, such as land-based sources of pollution and destructive fishing practices. They are also negatively impacted by global stressors such as frequent and severe bleaching and ocean acidification due to climate change

A coral nursery loaded with detached corals in Hawai’i off the coast of O’ahu. Credit: NOAA Fisheries.

Coral restoration efforts have been successful at a local level. However, NOAA recognizes that environmental change is outpacing corals’ natural ability to adapt. Innovative interventions are needed to improve the long-term effectiveness of coral restoration activities at a larger scale.

The deadline for proposals is February 23, 2022. Award amounts will range from $100,000 to $1 million over a 1- to 3-year project period.

This competition is a tribute to the work and life of Dr. Ruth Gates, former Director of the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology and renowned coral researcher. It aims to build on her efforts to address the decline in coral reefs through innovative science and research.

Dr. Ruth Gates, in front of a computer, explains the benefits of using an advanced microscope to image corals.
Dr. Ruth Gates explains the benefits of using an advanced microscope to image corals. Credit: NOAA.

This is the second funding opportunity under this competition that NOAA began in 2020. In addition, in 2021 NOAA funded $1.43 million for three new and four continuing projects to develop novel coral restoration and intervention methods to restore resilient coral ecosystems.

Last updated by Office of Habitat Conservation on February 24, 2022