[Coral-List] U.S. Coral Reef Task Force Showcases Conservation Accomplishments And Remaining Needs

Roger B. Griffis Roger.B.Griffis at noaa.gov
Wed Mar 21 16:35:50 EDT 2007

*Office of the Secretary
March 12, 2007 *


Shane Wolfe, 202-208-6416


  U.S. Coral Reef Task Force Showcases Conservation Accomplishments

    States, Territories Prioritize Efforts and Remaining Needs

Washington, D.C. – The U.S. Coral Reef Task Force met recently at the 
Department of the Interior to discuss ways to support efforts by state 
and territory reef managers to raise public awareness of the threats 
facing reefs, and to address one of the biggest threats to those reefs – 
land-based pollution sources that imperil some of the world’s most 
diverse wildlife resources.

At the 17th biannual meeting last week, the Task Force – composed of 
federal agencies, states and territories involved in coral reef 
conservation – hosted a special session on the status of its Local 
Action Strategies Initiative. State and territory reef managers 
highlighted significant progress in addressing land-based pollution 
sources and raising public awareness, but also requested further federal 
technical and financial assistance for moving these local conservation 
efforts forward.

The Task Force is examining ways to strengthen the capacity of local and 
state management agencies to carry out conservation work. These 
‘capacity’ needs range from increased training for management staff to 
sustained funding and increased educational and job opportunities to 
build and retain local expertise.

“"These jurisdictional coral projects are where the real work of 
conserving our coral reefs takes place",” said Deputy Assistant 
Secretary of the Interior for Insular Affairs David Cohen. “"We need to 
do all that we can to help them succeed.”"

Of 700 Local Action Strategy projects developed across U.S. coral reef 
jurisdictions to maximize conservation gains at the local and 
state/territory level, 500 projects are underway. Of the $63 million 
needed for full Local Action Strategy implementation, $25 million, or 45 
percent, has been raised from federal, state, territory and private sources.

The Task Force also passed a resolution supporting reauthorization of 
the Coral Reef Conservation Act, in light of the key role the Act has 
played in conserving coral reef resources.

“"The Act has been very important for allowing NOAA to help advance 
coral reef conservation nationally and on the ground",” said Timothy 
Keeney, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere 
and Task Force co-chair.

The original Act was passed in 2000, and was up for reauthorization 
starting in 2004.

Presentations at the meeting were made by field staff from Florida, 
Hawaii, American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas 
Islands, Guam, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, representing all 
of the jurisdictions of the United States with coral reefs.

Presidential Executive Order 13089 established the U.S. Coral Reef Task 
Force in 1998 to lead U.S. efforts to preserve and protect coral reef 
ecosystems. Through the coordinated efforts of its members, including 
representatives of 12 federal agencies, the governors of seven states 
and territories, and the leaders of the Freely Associated States, the 
U.S. Coral Reef Task Force has helped advance U.S. efforts to protect 
and manage valuable coral reef ecosystems in the U.S. and 
internationally. The Department of the Interior and the National Oceanic 
and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) co-chair the Task Force.

The 12 federal agencies represented on the Task Force – the Department 
of Commerce, Department of the Interior, Department of Agriculture, 
Department of State, the U.S. Navy, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, 
the Environmental Protection Agency, Agency for International 
Development, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and 
U.S. Coast Guard – will review the priority needs to determine where 
they may be able to offer technical assistance, personnel or funding.

The Task Force also reviewed a draft action plan for the International 
Year of the Reef in 2008, after hosting a summit on U.S. participation 
in the international year. Over 70 individuals from almost 40 agencies, 
non-profit organizations, universities and other groups participated in 
helping shape plans for collaborative action and public education.

Deputy Secretary of the Interior Lynn Scarlett delivered the keynote 
address, challenging the Task Force to think beyond present approaches 
as they look to the future.
The next meeting of the Task Force will be in American Samoa in August.

*Additional information on the Task Force meeting is available at 

On the Web:
U.S. Coral Reef Task Force - http://www.coralreef.gov/
Department of the Interior – http://www.doi.gov/
NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program - http://www.coralreef.noaa.gov/
International Coral Reef Initiative: http://www.icriforum.org/
International Year of the Reef 2008: http://www.iyor.org/

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