[Coral-List] Majuro question: more resources

John McManus jmcmanus at rsmas.miami.edu
Fri Mar 21 14:55:15 EDT 2014

The USCRTF was established under Executive Order 13089
(http://www.coralreef.gov/about/executive_order13089.pdf). It primarily
talks about protecting US Coral Reefs, and coordination with the
International Coral Reef Initiative. The Republic of the Marshall Islands
(RMI) is a non-voting member. However, it is no longer a US territory, but
rather an independent nation covered under the renewed Compact of Free
Association, under which the US provides economic benefits (including
improvements in transportation) in exchange for things including potential
military use. 

The US Secretary of Transportation is a member of the USCRTF, and one would
think that fact would lead to the operation of FAA in the spirit of the
Executive Order. However, there appears to be no strong legal basis that
says they have to.  

We need immediate public demand that will sway the US FAA, or perhaps
encourage the President to pass along the pressure or issue a new Executive
Order. Discussions with RMI via the US State Department would be especially

Ultimately, we need the legislation. I am concerned about coral reefs,
marshes, rain forests, freshwater bodies, and general human welfare -- all
of which can be threatened by poorly controlled US interventions that impact
non-US environments.   


-----Original Message-----
From: Szmant, Alina [mailto:szmanta at uncw.edu] 
Sent: Friday, March 21, 2014 1:33 PM
To: John McManus; coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
Subject: RE: [Coral-List] Majuro question: more resources

Hello John:

The Clinton Presidential executive order that initiated the US Coral Reef
Task Force was supposed to include the policy that no US Federal agency,
which the FAA is, could conduct any activity that would negatively affect
coral reefs.  I remember during the early meetings of the task force all the
discussions about the US Navy using Vieques and Culebra for bombing
practice, and that the US Navy and Marines were pressured out from doing so.
Why doesn't this apply to the FAA in Majuro  or can the agency basically
consider corals, and then state yes we considered then but we are going to
do it anyway?


"Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds
discuss people." Eleanor Roosevelt

"The time is always right to do what is right"  Martin Luther King

Dr. Alina M. Szmant
Professor of Marine Biology
Center for Marine Science
University of North Carolina Wilmington
5600 Marvin Moss Ln
Wilmington NC 28409 USA
tel:  910-962-2362  fax: 910-962-2410  cell: 910-200-3913

-----Original Message-----
From: coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
[mailto:coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov] On Behalf Of John McManus
Sent: Friday, March 21, 2014 11:42 AM
To: coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
Subject: Re: [Coral-List] Majuro question: more resources

Of course, this is about US FAA and RMI EPA, and not US EPA. 

Some people from various US resource agencies made some inquiries about this
problem some time ago to see what they could do about it. The answer had to
do with the particular relationship of RMI to the US. This meant that
although FAA could fund a project there, the resource agencies had no
jurisdiction over the impacts of that project. Apparently, the rules even
vary between Guam and the rest of Micronesia, American Samoa, Puerto Rico,
the U.S. Virgin Islands, etc. Apparently, no one size fits all set of rules
applies. The problem is worse for US development activities in countries
which were not previously part of the US.  

The situation is similar in some ways, or inverse, to the one addressed by
the Black Bass Act, which prohibited import into the US of natural products
gathered illegally in other countries -- including corals. 

While clearly the immediate issue in Majuro is the priority for now,
ultimately we need new legislation which prohibits the US from providing
major funding to overseas construction projects without a US EPA approval
based on a proper EIA/EIS. The US should never be involved in a major
project anywhere which would be illegal within the US.

I say 'major' because of course we do not want Peace Corps volunteers to
have to undergo such a process for every well they dig for small villages in
Subsaharan Africa. Thus, 'major' would be defined in terms of some dollar
amount or by some other effective criteria.   

I urge all of you in the US who are communicating about this to your
congressional representatives to add this need for new legislation to your
discussions -- after emphasizing the need for quicker, more immediate action
on the Majuro situation.


John W. McManus, PhD
Director, National Center for Coral Reef Research (NCORE) Professor, Marine
Biology and Fisheries Coral Reef Ecology and Management Lab (CREM Lab)
Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science (RSMAS) University of
Miami, 4600 Rickenbacker Causeway, Miami, 33149
jmcmanus at rsmas.miami.edu      http://ncore.rsmas.miami.edu/

"If you lose a diamond ring in the bedroom, don't look for it in the living
room just because the light there is better".

I got much of this information from using the following search term at the
US Coral Reef Task Force (USCRTF) site (http://coralreef.gov):

site:http://www.coralreef.gov majuro

If you want to see what the airport looks like on Majuro, see the slide
"Majuro Challenges" at in this presentation:


>From a bit of reading, it appears to me that Majuro's airport may serve
to help many other islands in the region, and that's probably why "they"
want the airport extension:  bigger cargo planes.

>From the USCRTF site I also find that the following organizations in 
Republic of the Marshall Islands may have input or knowledge about the coral
mining issue in Majuro:

  * Marshall Islands Marine Resources Authority (MIMRA)
  * Office of Environmental Planning and Policy Coordination (OEPPC)
  * RMI Environmental Protection Agency (RMIEPA)
  * Ministry of Internal Affairs (IA)
  * College of the Marshall Islands (CMI)
  * Marshall Islands Visitors Authority (MIVA)
  * Historic Preservation Office (HPO)
  * Marshall Islands Conservation Society (MICS)
  * Natural Resources Assessment Surveys (NRAS)

Perhaps the USCRTF is a logical organization to further pursue the issue.
These are the members of the USCRTF (from their Web site):

    ? NOAA CRCP: The Coral Reef Conservation Program has a large grant
    program funding major coral reef
    research and management initiatives in the US and abroad.
    ? FWS: Fish and Wildlife Service manages 15 coral reef National
    Wildlife Refuges and 4 National Marine
    Monuments which represent the largest and most ecologically
    comprehensive series of fully-protected marine
    areas under unifi edconservation management in the world.
    ? MMS: Since the 1970s, the Mineral Management Service has sponsored
    long-term monitoring in the coral reef
    ecosystem of the Flower Garden Banks located in the Gulf of Mexico.
    ? NPS: The National Park Service has 10 National Parks in the Pacifi
    c, Florida and the Caribbean with coral reef ecosystems.
    ? OIA: Offi ce of Insular Aff airs, through its Coral Reef
    Initiative, funds coral reef conservation and management
    projects in the US insular areas.
    ? USGS: The U.S. Geological Survey developed a "Strategic Science
    for Coral Ecosystems 2007-2011," a
    comprehensive planning document encompassing marine reserves and
    reef structure, pollution and local
    impacts, and responses to global change.
    ? USAID: The US Agency for International Development provides core
    support to the WorldFish Center,
    which published a "Lessons Learned and Best Practices in the
    Management of Coral Reefs," providing a
    comprehensive analysis of 30 projects worldwide.
    ? USCG: The US Coast Guard provides assets to assist with the
    removal of fi shing gear and other debris aff ecting
    coral reefs; removing over 510 metric tons from Hawai`i since 1996.
    ? USDA: The Department of Agriculture staff produces and maintains
    Field Offi ce Technical Guides, with information
    on conservation, water, air and biological resources, as well as
    maps, cultural resources, and protected species.
    ? DOD - Navy: The Department of Defense funds a vast array of
    environmental research via the Strategic
    Environmental Research and Development Program, focusing the areas
    of cleanup, compliance, conservation
    and pollution prevention technologies.
    ? USACE: The Army Corps of Engineers maintains an Institute for
    Water Resources, off ering education and
    training opportunities in water resource management.
    ? DOS: The Department of State provides substantial support to the
    International Coral Reef Initiative and the
    Coral Triangle Initiative.
    ? EPA: The Environmental Protection Agency maintains the Catalog of
    Federal Funding Sources for Watershed
    Protection, a database with funding from many Federal agencies.
    ? NASA: The National Aeronautics and Space Administration conducts
    cutting-edge coral monitoring and imaging
    research, including the Millennium Coral Reef Mapping Project, which
    maps all reefs found in all tropical oceans.
    ? NSF: The National Science Foundation supports projects targeted to
    advancing knowledge of coral reef
    ecosystems, including long-term and inter-disciplinary research.

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