The US Pacific Islands are concerned a mainland US environmental group's proposed list of endangered coral species can impact the islands' ability to manage its resources.
The Center for Biological Diversity has proposed a list of 66 reef building corals under the Endangered Species Act.
Dr Takiora Ingram, the Pacific Islands Regional Ocean Partnership secretariat, has told Radio Australia's 59 of the coral species listed under the act are found in the Pacific and that involves management issues.
"There's a big issue there about how this is going to be done, who's going to be responsible for managing this," Dr Ingram said.
"What kind of enforcements are going to be available and where is the money going to come from to advance all of these big management issues."
Dr Ingram says an alternative solution to protecting the corals should instead be sought after given climate change affecting the environment.
"The real issues are global warming, climate change and their impact... these are the greatest threats to corals," Dr Ingram said.
"Managing things like poor land use, cause of sedimentation, nutrients and toxin run off into the ocean...We need to be addressing those issues in addition to managing corals more effectively."