NOAA Plan for Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease

NOAA has released a plan to guide future actions to treat and prevent the spread of a disease affecting coral reefs in Florida and the U.S. Caribbean. The plan also includes actions to prevent the spread of the disease to the Indo-Pacific.  

Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease, first identified in 2014, has harmed more than 22 species of stony corals in Florida, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, and continues to spread across the Caribbean. Cases have been confirmed in at least 20 countries and territories. 

The NOAA Strategy for Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease: An Implementation Plan for Response and Prevention will promote projects that help scientists study potential causes, understand how the disease spreads, identify high-risk locations and vessels at risk of transporting the disease, develop new treatments and diagnostic tools and evaluate the vulnerability of Pacific coral species. The strategy also increases the local capacity for disease response by supporting field training, citizen science and coral rescue efforts. 

Specifics called out in the plan include:

  • Determining the disease cause, which can aid in outbreak management and prevention. 

  • Identifying routes and vehicles that move disease in order to inform intervention and prevention strategies. 

  • Increasing NOAA’s investment in treatment and intervention in affected locations. 

  • Researching which species in the Pacific are susceptible to the disease, in order to target prevention and response plans. 

While this disease currently only exists in the Atlantic and the Caribbean, work underway will help prepare Pacific communities to respond to the potential spread of the disease to the Indo-Pacific region. 

This plan and more information on the science and management of Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease are available on NOAA’s Coral Reef Information System SCTLD web page. The implementation plan builds on the scientific framework provided by the NOAA Strategy for Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease Response and Prevention, released in 2020.

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