The Enforcement Working Group works with uncontrolled impacts to coral reefs and associated habitat in areas lacking enforcement were, in the context of the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force, first cited to be a problem in the 2000 National Action Plan to Conserve Coral Reefs:

"To some extent, these growing pressures are symptoms of the rapid growth in coastal populations and tourism over the past few decades, and of current resource limitations in programs responsible for implementation and enforcement of existing conservation authorities."

In 2001 in response to these and other challenges, the Task Force established work groups to further focus the attention and expertise of member governments and agencies. Since that time, it has become clear that existing conservation authorities may also be lacking or incomplete within some jurisdictions. The Strategy also cited the need for "enhancing local and regional emergency response capabilities, strengthening and standardizing enforcement and damage assessment actions, and, where needed, developing additional legal authorities" and to "Improve domestic law enforcement of illegal coral reef species trade."

Given these concerns and with added inertia from the U.S. Coral Reef Initiative, Federal agencies delivered training on coral reef enforcement in successive years. The need for further work and a more directed effort was evident. In 2005, Resolution 14-4 was put forward by NOAA and the Department of Justice proposing, among other things, establishment of a standing Working Group on Enforcement to coordinate capability building activities and address particular challenges such as international trade in protected coral species. The Resolution was adopted and the working group engaged in regular meetings culminating in a three-day workshop led by Department of Justice, NOAA and hosted by Puerto Rico Department of Natural and Environmental Resources in early 2007. The working group continued to meet until roughly 2009, when it settled into a more reactive posture.

Impressive efforts were undertaken by the All Islands Committee to conduct gap analyses and develop Capacity Assessments, reviewing progress toward implementing Local Action Strategies and identifying impediments to doing so. Based on the capacity assessments and the consistent views expressed by staff and principals that enforcement shortfalls persist, the working group was reactivated to "determine exactly what type of enforcement needs there were in the jurisdictions, and what, if anything, the Task Force could do to address the issue." In 2016, the working group convened via teleconference and discussed the broad range of activities that jurisdictions engage in under the rubric of "enforcement", and discussed particular needs that might be addressed through the Task Force. An informal survey was conducted to solicit views from practitioners and managers working in the field. The working group collaborated with the state of Florida to shape some sessions taking place at the 2017 summer meeting, in light of concerns raised during working group meetings and to further the conversation about enforcement needs and potential Task Force avenues of assistance.




The Enforcement Working Groups meets periodically.  This working group is currently chaired by DOJ.