(Honolulu, HI) – Congressman Ed Case (HI-01) today introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives his bipartisan Coral Reef Conservation Reauthorization Act to continue, update and improve our national commitment to save our endangered coral reefs as first set forth in a measure enacted twenty years ago.
“In the two decades since the passage of the 2000 Act, the state of our reefs has deteriorated alarmingly and the challenges and opportunities for effective management have evolved,” said Case.
Case said coral reefs are vital natural infrastructure that safeguard our coastal and island communities. Healthy, resilient coral reefs buffer against severe weather, shoreline erosion, and flooding and serve as natural breakwaters for maritime ports and harbors.
“Coral reefs also support countless American jobs in the tourism, hospitality, boating, recreation, and fishing industries,” said Case. “In particular, coral reefs are integral to commercial and recreational sport fisheries across the United States and in our nation’s Exclusive Economic Zone.”
Case continued: “As coral reefs provide a rich habitat for a variety of marine life, the loss of coral reef ecosystems is having very serious consequences for coastal communities and economies, the health of fish and other marine wildlife, biodiversity and the overall marine environment.
“In fact, such loss is accelerating rapidly, for various reasons. Warmer-than-normal ocean temperatures combined with widespread pollution are threatening their health and causing mass bleaching events. Bleaching events cause corals to be more susceptible to disease and increase their chances of dying.”
Case explained that his Coral Reef Conservation Reauthorization Act will:
- Strengthen the federal responses to coral reef emergencies, including bleaching, vessel groundings, harmful algal blooms, coral disease/invasive species outbreaks, and unexplored ordnance underwater.
- Expand federal grant making for local coral reef conservation projects, including research on coral biodiversity, propagation, and resiliency.
- Authorize the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force and the Coral Reef Management Fellowship.
- Authorize the U.S. Department of the Interior to research and conserve coral resources, including coral reefs within national parks, national wildlife refuges, and national monuments.
“Coral reefs represent the planet’s greatest source of biodiversity,” said Case. “Coral reefs cover less than 1% of the ocean floor but are home to some 25% of all known marine species.
“Coral reef ecosystems also support upwards of 12% of global fisheries and an estimated 25% of all known fish species.
“It is critical to life as we know it that we accelerate our efforts to preserve these invaluable and indispensable elements of our natural world.”
Case said co-sponsors of his measure include:
Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI)
Jared Huffman (D-CA)
Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan (D-CNMI)
Aumua Amata Coleman Radewagen (R-AS)
Alcee Hastings (D-FL)
Ted Yoho (R-FL)
Kathy Castor (D-FL)
Bill Posey (R-FL)
Charlie Crist (D-FL)
Attachments: Copy of Coral Reef Conservation Reauthorization Act
Section-by-section summary of the Act