Coral Reef Conservation Act Reauthorization and Enhancement Amendments of 2013by Representative Madeleine Z. Bordallo
Posted on 2013-01-03
in the house of representatives
Thursday, January 3, 2013
Ms. BORDALLO. Mr. Speaker, today I reintroduced a bill to amend and
reauthorize the Coral Reef Conservation Act of 2000. Conservation of
coral reef ecosystems is essential to protect public health, promote
environmental sustainability, and ensure long-term economic progress
for the jurisdictions we represent in Congress. The sovereign waters of
the United States off the coast of Guam, and in the Pacific region as a
whole, contain a majority of the shallow-water coral reefs in the
United States, as well as some of the world's greatest coral reef
biodiversity. These reefs, and reefs around the world, provide habitat
and shelter for fisheries, provide food and recreation for our
residents, and are the basis for marine tourism industries.
Coral reefs also provide important mitigation from extreme weather events, including hurricanes and typhoons, by absorbing up to 90% of wave energy, mitigating some of the most costly aspects of severe storms. Coastal storms account for 71% of annual disaster losses. Healthy reef systems may protect an estimated $47,000 of property value for every meter of reef during severe weather events.
Today, however, various pressures on the world's reefs threaten to destroy them and the numerous ecosystem services, valued at over $8 billion, which they provide. These threats have led the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to propose that 54 species be listed as threatened and 12 species be listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act of 1973. Unless the United States acts in conjunction with the global community to support focused, prolonged action on coral reef education, research, and management, the condition of our coral reefs will continue to degrade.
[[Page E9]] Since its enactment in 2000, the Coral Reef Conservation Act has stimulated a greater commitment to protect, conserve, and restore coral reef resources within jurisdictional waters of the United States. As a result, we now have a much better grasp of the condition of our coral reefs, and more focused management capability than at any time in our history. The Coral Reef Conservation Act Reauthorization and Enhancement Amendments of 2013 expands emergency response mechanisms, establishes a new community-based planning grants program, promotes international cooperation, and recognizes the important contributions of the U.S. Department of the Interior in coral reef management and conservation efforts. The bill does not authorize any new funding.
This bill would also codify the United States Coral Reef Task Force established in 1998 by President Clinton through Executive Order 13089. The work of the Task Force and its mission to coordinate the efforts of the United States in promoting conservation and the sustainable use of coral reefs internationally is vital to our interests. Since 1998, the Task Force has acted to facilitate and support better management and conservation of coral reef resources at the local level. Many beneficial efforts, such as the development and implementation of local action strategies to address threats to our reefs, are underway thanks to the work of the Task Force and its member agencies.
I would like to thank Reps. Pierluisi, Farr, Christensen, and Wasserman Schultz for joining me as original cosponsors and I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to advance this legislation to enhance our capacity for the conservation and restoration of healthy and diverse coral reef ecosystems.