The Center for Biological Diversity is suing the National Marine Fisheries Service, saying the agency did not give 12 species of U.S. coral critical habitat protection that is required by the Endangered Species Act.
The center said in a press release that endangered species with critical habitat protection are twice as likely to recover.
Emily Jeffers, an attorney for the center, said it's been five years and still no sign of secured areas.
"We think that it's important that the government take active steps- steps that they are required to do under law- to ensure that these species, these corals that underpin the whole reef ecosystem, get the protections that they deserve," said Jeffers.
She said critical habitat designations require that biologists are consulted when a project is proposed to ensure that there is no harm to endangered species.
The press release said 30 percent of corals are already gone due to climate change, pollution and overfishing, and the rest could be gone by the end of the century.