Coral Reef Task Force National Action Plan and Meeting

Mary Middlebrook reef_education at
Mon Feb 28 19:11:48 EST 2000

A copy of my letter to the CRTF can be read at

>From: Jack Sobel <JSobel at DCCMC.ORG>
>Reply-To: Jack Sobel <JSobel at DCCMC.ORG>
>To: "'coral-list at'" <coral-list at>
>CC: Doug Obegi <DObegi at CACMC.ORG>
>Subject: Coral Reef Task Force National Action Plan and Meeting
>Date: Sat, 26 Feb 2000 12:48:07 -0500
>The U.S. Coral Reef Task Force will adopt its National Action Plan to
>Conserve Coral Reefs on March 2, 2000 at its meeting in Washington, DC.  
>Center for Marine Conservation has drafted the following/attached letter,
>which we plan to present publicly at that meeting.  The purpose of this
>letter is to congratulate the task force for some good work done to date, 
>encourage them to strengthen those areas that need further strengthening, 
>challenge Congress and the next Administration to join in the fight to
>protect coral reefs, and to engage the American public in supporting this
>effort.  Our purpose in posting this on the Coral-list Server is to share
>our views on this with the science and research community, get feedback 
>others on them, and encourage scientists, researchers, and others to share
>their views with the Administration's Coral Reef Task Force.  If you
>respresent an organization, share our views, and are interested in joining
>with us on this letter, please contact Doug Obegi by email at
>dobegi at or Doug or myself by phone at (202) 429-5609 no later than
>Tuesday, February 29th.  We also greatly appreciate any respectful feedback
>or suggestions regarding the Coral Reef Task Force, the National Action
>Plan, or the letter below.
>March 2, 2000
>The Honorable Bruce Babbit
>Co-Chair, Coral Reef Task Force
>U.S. Department of the Interior
>1849 C Street, N.W., Room 6151
>Washington, D.C. 20240
>Dr. D. James Baker
>Co-Chair, Coral Reef Task Force
>U.S. Department of Commerce
>14th and Constitution Avenue NW, Room 5128
>Washington, D.C. 20230
>On March 2, the Clinton Administration will unveil a landmark plan to
>protect our nation's and the world's endangered coral reefs.  This
>first-ever National Action Plan to Conserve Coral Reefs marks a bold first
>step.  Stimulated by the President's 1998 Coral Reef Executive Order and
>developed over two years by the Coral Reef Task Force (CRTF) the Executive
>Order created, the plan clearly identifies the tremendous values of coral
>reefs, the extraordinary threats facing them, and the urgent need to
>conserve them.  Furthermore, it identifies key strategies, core principles,
>and priority actions to halt and reverse their decline.  The Administration
>and the Task Force deserve praise for their valuable work to date, and we
>must ensure that it was not done in vain.
>To deliver on the plan's promise of protecting these vital habitats for
>future generations, the American public, the Administration, and the
>Congress must build on the leadership demonstrated in drafting this plan
>throughout the difficult task of implementing its noteworthy vision.  The
>plan provides an appropriately strong vision and identifies the correct
>broad strategies, but it will require strengthening some of these
>strategies, fleshing out details, and the provision of adequate resources 
>be successful.   The following elements are particularly deserving of
>emphasis and broad public support in either their current form or with
>additional strengthening as discussed below:
>1.	Fully protect at least 20% of the nation's coral reefs from
>extractive uses by the year 2010- One of the strongest elements of the plan
>sets a goal to permanently protect at least 20% of all U.S. coral reefs in
>marine reserve or  "no-take" protected areas by the year 2010, with 
>interim benchmarks to measure progress.  Such a marine protected area
>network would be based on scientific analyses and stakeholder input to
>devise fair and equitable solutions that provide the greatest benefits to
>the nation while recognizing regional and local concerns.  Recent progress
>on the Tortugas Ecological Reserve in Florida and the Red Hind Marine
>Conservation Area in the USVI indicate that such an approach will be
>successful, but adequate resources and commitment must be provided.
>2.	Reduce pollution and habitat destruction- The emphasis on these
>threats in the plan is warranted, but unfortunately, the plan does not
>provide similarly tangible protection goals or benchmarks for measuring
>success as the above element.. The public should demand and the Task Force
>commit to implementing more concrete measures aimed at reducing these
>threats, particularly nutrient and sediment pollution from both point
>sources and polluted runoff.
>3.	Improve mapping and monitoring of coral reefs- Better mapping of
>coral reef ecosystems and monitoring of their condition would provide the
>underpinnings for improved conservation and measuring success.  The plan
>includes a number of worthwhile elements in this regard ranging from
>improved coral reef habitat mapping for both Caribbean and Pacific regions
>to low cost volunteer monitoring programs that involve divers and others in
>assessing reef conditions (such as the RECON project) to biennial reports 
>the State of American Coral Reef Ecosystems.
>4.	Manage coral harvesting and end destructive collecting practices-
>The plan directs the U.S. to reduce the unsustainable commercial extraction
>of reef resources and its resultant habitat destruction.  The U.S. will
>restrict commercial collection of coral and "live rock" throughout U.S.
>waters and phase-in a ban on the use of cyanide in collecting reef 
>However, because of the critical importance of coral and "live rock" to the
>vitality of coral reef ecosystems, the task force should consider whether a
>comprehensive ban on commercial collecting would be more appropriate.
>5.	Increase funding for coral reef conservation- The action plan does
>not address specific funding needs to ensure its success, but it is clear
>that substantially increased funding will be necessary to achieve its 
>The Administration has requested some increased funding in its FY2001 
>for this purpose and these should be provided, but even these increases are
>small with respect to both the value of our coral reef resources and the
>severity of their plight.  The public, Congress, and the Administration
>should support much higher levels of funding to ensure the plan's success.
>The National Action Plan to Conserve Coral Reefs puts the United States on 
>path towards ensuring a representative portion of these habitats are
>permanently protected, that all U.S. reefs are better managed and 
>and that the U.S. leads international conservation efforts.
>Coral reefs are some of the most diverse, valuable, and vulnerable marine
>habitats on the earth.  Tens of thousands of species have been identified 
>coral reefs, and estimates suggest that coral reefs may be home to more 
>nine million species of plants and animals.  Over half of all managed
>fishery species in the United States spend important parts of their lives 
>or around coral reefs.  Some of the most promising biotechnological
>innovations in the future may come from coral reef species.  Tourism,
>commercial and subsistence fishing, and the "intangible" benefits of reefs,
>such as the protection of coastal communities and ports from storms, 
>economic benefits estimated to be in excess of $375 billion per year
>Yet coral reefs worldwide, like those in the United States, are extremely
>vulnerable and in danger of being destroyed.  Water pollution from oil
>spills, sewage outfalls, and nonpoint source pollution; overfishing;
>overexploitation for commercial trade in coral reef products and from
>biotechnological collecting; habitat destruction from fishing gear, ship
>groundings and anchoring; and coral bleaching from rising global water
>temperatures all threaten coral reefs.  Approximately 10% of the world's
>reefs have already been destroyed, and an additional 60% are threatened 
>destruction in the next 50 years.
>We commend this Administration for its leadership in adopting a
>precautionary approach to coral reef conservation. But the "real" work, for
>this Administration as well as those who come after it, will be in the
>plan's implementation.  This depends upon two critical factors.  First, the
>Congress must appropriate adequate funding, beginning this year, to carry
>out this plan.  Coral reefs cannot be saved by plans alone.  And second,
>this and the next Administration must remain committed to continuing the
>work now begun.  We have laid out an ambitious and indispensable plan of
>action for the next ten years: now we must carry it out.
>  <<CRTF group letter (FINAL2).rtf>>
>Jack A. Sobel, Director
>Ecosystem Program
>Center for Marine Conservation
>1725 DeSales St. NW, Suite #600
>Washington, DC  20036
>Business Phone:  (202) 429-5609 / (202) 857-3270
>Business Fax:  (202) 872-0619
>Email:  jsobel at
>  <<Jack Sobel.vcf>>
><< CRTFgroupletter(FINAL2).rtf >>
><< JackSobel.vcf >>

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