Department Of Interior

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Office of the Secretary
Contact:Hugh Vickery
For Immediate Release:Oct. 2, 2003
Assistant Secretary Manson to Co-Chair Meeting
of Task Force to Protect and Restore Coral Reefs

(COMMONWEALTH OF THE NORTHERN MARIANA ISLANDS) -- Assistant Secretary of Interior for Fish and Wildlife and Parks Craig Manson will co-chair the 10th meeting of the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force, Oct. 3-7, hosted by the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and Guam.

The meeting will focus on implementing locally developed action plans in support of the National Coral Reef Action Strategy produced by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in conjunction with the Task Force.

"Coral reefs are among the most biologically rich and economically valuable ecosystems in the world, but they are threatened by everything from pollution to overexploitation," Manson said. "This meeting of the Task Force will be a watershed moment in our efforts to save coral reefs because we are moving from the planning stage to actually determining what actions we will take in the near future to help the reefs."

"It is particularly appropriate that this important meeting is taking place on Guam and the Northern Marianas because their economies, like the economies of so many tropical islands, receive significant benefits from healthy coral reefs, including major fishery resources and tourism," Manson said.

Coral reefs face a growing array of threats, including over-exploitation, habitat loss, pollution, invasive species, diseases and climate change. The rapid decline and loss of reefs has significant social, economic, and environmental consequences in the United States and its territories as well as around the world.

The Task Force will focus on lessening human impacts on these ecosystems, restoring reefs, and educating the public on the threats to reefs. It will also address international trade in coral reef species.

"In many ways, coral reefs are the next rain forests in terms of the threat from human activities," Manson said. "Now is the time to take action to protect these beautiful and biologically significant treasures."


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