[Coral-List] Highlights of American Samoa-hosted U.S. Coral Reef Task Force meeting

Alissa Barron alissa.barron at noaa.gov
Fri Aug 31 15:17:25 EDT 2007

Coral colleagues --

To follow up on the recent traffic regarding last week's U.S. Coral Reef 
Task Force meeting in Pago Pago -- and American Samoa's new climate 
change executive order that was announced at the meeting -- I am copying 
below the press release that was issued following the meeting. It has 
some additional information about key meeting outcomes, among them a 
Task Force climate change resolution and American Samoa's executive order.


Alissa Barron
National Communication and Outreach Coordinator
NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program
Email: Alissa.Barron at noaa.gov
Web: www.coralreef.noaa.gov

August 27, 2007
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

Contact: Ben Sherman, NOAA Public Affairs
(301) 713-3066 ext. 178

Also Announces Cooperative Conservation Plan for International Year of 
the Reef

During its biannual meeting this week in Pago Pago, American Samoa, the 
U. S. Coral Reef Task Force announced the formation of a new climate 
change working group and endorsed an action plan for the International 
Year of the Reef 2008 that will involve government and non-government 
partners in conservation.

The new climate change working group is charged with developing best 
practices to help local resource managers minimize the impact of 
climate-induced stresses like coral bleaching while better educating the 
public about the impacts of climate change on the health and survival of 
reef resources. Components of the decision also called for developing 
bleaching response plans for each U.S. state and territory with reefs, 
and assessing what expertise and resources federal agencies have to 
mitigate risk and damage.

The Task Force further called on members and partners to reduce 
greenhouse gas emissions and affirmed the role that regional networks of 
marine protected areas can play in protecting ecological connectivity 
among islands in the face of potential future losses that may result due 
to climate change.

“This new climate change working group will be composed of experts from 
across the 19-agency Task Force in climate science, coral bleaching and 
management actions relevant to the coral reef and climate nexus,” said 
Timothy Keeney, deputy assistant secretary of commerce for oceans and 
atmosphere and Task Force co-chair. “We recognize and are acting to 
address the vulnerability of island and coastal communities to changes 
in shoreline protection, fisheries and tourism as a result of climate 
change effects to coral reefs.”

The creation of the climate change group is considered a major new step 
for the Task Force, but one that builds on several past resolutions and 
the 2005 release of The Reef Manager’s Guide to Coral Bleaching. The 
Reef Manager’s Guide provides information on the causes and consequences 
of coral bleaching, and helps managers understand and plan for bleaching 

As part of this effort, the Task Force hosted a special session on the 
health of coral reef ecosystems in a changing climate, drawing from the 
regional and international expertise to highlight common challenges and 
management needs.

“The critical importance of addressing climate change issues sooner 
rather than later was clearly articulated in yesterday’s panel and 
subsequent discussion,” said American Samoa Governor Togiola Tulafono, 
local meeting host and author of the recent climate change statement 
that prompted the Task Force to take additional action. “As Wayne 
Nastri, U. S. Environmental Protection Agency Regional Administrator for 
Region 9 so eloquently stated, we need to begin immediately to put our 
words into action to address those opportunities within our mandates and 

The American Samoa Governor also announced the passage of a territorial 
Executive Order addressing climate change on August 23. The Executive 
Order takes a proactive approach by mandating the American Samoa 
government agencies and departments make short- and long-term 
commitments to curb greenhouse gas emissions.

Climate change discussions will continue next week as 30 local experts 
from U.S. Pacific states and territories, Fiji, and Western Samoa meet 
in Pago Pago, American Samoa to share strategies and learn how to use 
tools that predict where coral bleaching will occur, measure coral reef 
resilience, and assess the socioeconomic impacts of climate damage. The 
workshop, part of global series, will be hosted by NOAA, the Great 
Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, and The Nature Conservancy, who 
partnered with the World Conservation Congress (IUCN) and others to 
release the Reef Manager’s Guide.

This meeting has showcased what can be done to conserve coral reefs,” 
said Nikola Pula, Director of the Department of the Interior’s Office of 
Insular Affairs and acting co-chair of the Task Force. “As a native 
Samoan, I am extremely impressed with what has been accomplished here in 
American Samoa over the last several years, and with the initiatives 
announced at this meeting. Throughout the Pacific Islands, the melding 
of traditional practices and institutions with modern science is giving 
us conservation efforts that are supported by the local communities.”

In response to the declaration of 2008 as the International Year of the 
Reef (IYOR) by the International Coral Reef Initiative, the Task Force 
also adopted an IYOR Action Plan. The action plan features new and 
strengthened partnerships across the government and non-government 
communities to more effectively reach the American public with 
coordinated messages about coral reef decline and the role individuals, 
organizations and businesses can play in helping to halt that decline.

The Task Force passed two additional resolutions. The first defined and 
launched ‘phase two’ of a highly successful Local Action Strategy 
initiative, which created three-year plans for local action that 
implemented hundreds of targeted conservation projects worth millions of 
dollars. The second resolution recognized a new strategic plan and 
charter for the U.S. All Islands Coral Reef Committee, which represents 
the Governors and Executive branches of the states, commonwealths, 
territories and Freely Associated States possessing coral reefs.

In keeping with the meeting’s theme, Science and Culture Bridging 
Management, the Task Force meeting featured in-depth sessions on 
enhancing management strategies through incorporation of traditional 
knowledge and regional approaches to managing coral reefs across 
political boundaries at the ecosystem level. Public workshops focused on 
federal grant and technical assistance opportunities for the region, as 
well as on methods for determining the economic value of coral reef 
ecosystems to protect economic benefits and enhance political support 
for reef conservation.

A Presidential Executive Order 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 lead U.S. efforts to protect and 
manage valuable coral reef ecosystems in the U.S. and internationally. 
NOAA and Department of Interior co-chair the Task Force.

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On the Web:
U.S. Coral Reef Task Force: http://www.coralreef.gov
NOAA: http://www.noaa.gov
Department of the Interior: http://www.doi.gov

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