[Coral-List] Coral bill passes the House of Representatives

Iwahara, Lisa Lisa.Iwahara at mail.house.gov
Tue Oct 23 22:22:47 EDT 2007

Dear Listers,


Some coral news from the Hill:

As you are probably aware, the Coral Reef Conservation Amendments Act
passed by voice vote on the House floor yesterday (October 22, 2007).


We also had a well-attended panel discussion on coral reef ecosystem
resilience in September.  Speakers, Dr. Nancy Knowlton, Dr. Robert
Steneck, Dr. Mark Eakin, and Kacky Andrews all gave excellent talks on
resilience and coral reef ecosystems from both science and management
perspectives to an audience of Hill staffers, NGOs, and federal workers.
The interest in ecosystem resilience on the Hill stemmed from
discussions over the reauthorization of the Coral Reef Conservation Act
(news article below for interested people).  Judging from the attendance
and the discussion that followed, this seemed to be a very timely topic
for a variety of groups.


Capitol Hill is several steps removed from all of your on-the-ground
(in-the-water) efforts, but I thought some of you might find it
interesting to know that coral reef ecosystem discussions are happening
up here, too.



OCEANS: Corals, ocean mapping bills move to House floor (06/29/2007) 

Lucy Kafanov, E&E Daily reporter

The House Natural Resources Committee yesterday attached changes backed
by the White House to a bill that would reauthorize the Coral Reef
Conservation Act.

Lawmakers then unanimously approved a substitute version of H.R. 1205,
as introduced by Dels. Madeleine Bordallo (D-Guam) and Eni Faleomavaega
(D-A.S.) to reauthorize the Coral Reef Conservation Act.

The proposal would codify a coral reef task force, expand the coral reef
conservation program, and require agencies to report every three years
on conservation and protection activities. The issue of coral reef
conservation hits home for the pair of lawmakers, since 70 percent of
coral reefs under U.S. jurisdiction are located in Pacific waters.

The Bush administration sought greater latitude for the federal
government to address reef health and the ability to prosecute ships
that hurt reefs. The White House also pushed for an emergency response
account to pay for restoration of reefs whenever ships hit and hurt
them. And the administration sought to make it illegal to destroy or
hurt a coral reef and allow the government to start making ships or
other responsible parties pay the restoration and response costs (E&E
Daily, June 25)

According to the Interior Department, nearly a quarter of the world's
reefs are under imminent risk of collapse from human pressures. Reefs
are threatened by pollution, disease, habitat destruction, over-fishing,
climate change, vessel groundings and coastal development.

"The rapid decline and loss of these valuable marine ecosystems will
have significant consequences," Bordallo said. "This legislation will
give states and local communities additional tools to protect the

The committee debated at length an amendment from Rep. Wayne Gilchrest
(R-Md.) to add the word "resilient" when talking about sensitive coral
ecosystems. While the amendment was withdrawn, Gilchrest said adding the
word would "enhance and does in fact add a greater depth of
understanding to what it takes to preserve this ecosystem."

But the effort was quickly shot down by lawmakers. Rep. Rob Bishop
(R-Utah) warned that the word is vague and lacks a definition that would
stand up against lawsuits in court.

"I would hope if people are serious about this bill, we would try not to
micromanage legislation that already has unanimous support," Bishop

Gilchrest vowed to add his amendment on the House floor.


Lisa Iwahara

Knauss Legislative Fellow

Congressman Wayne T. Gilchrest

Maryland's 1st District


2245 Rayburn House Office Building

Washington, DC 20515 

Phone: (202) 225-5311

Fax: (202) 225-0254

http://gilchrest.house.gov/ <http://gilchrest.house.gov/> 


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