Bordallo Reintroduces Coral Reef Conservation Bill
Washington, D.C. – Today, Congresswoman Madeleine Z. Bordallo reintroduced the Coral Reef Conservation Reauthorization Act to increase federal funding and protections for coral reefs nationwide.
The bipartisan bill has 13 original cosponsors: U.S. Representatives Darren Soto (D-FL), Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), Alcee L. Hastings (D-FL), Charlie Crist (D-FL), Kathy Castor (D-FL), Colleen Hanabusa (D-HI), Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), Aumua Amata Coleman Radewagen (R-AS), Jenniffer González-Colón (R-PR), John Rutherford (R-FL), Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan (D-NMI), Stacey E. Plaskett (D-USVI), Brian J. Mast (R-FL).
Congresswoman Bordallo’s bill reauthorizes, updates, and amends the Coral Reef Conservation Act of 2000, which expired in 2004. In particular, her bill aims to strengthen the federal National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) coral reef program, including establishing new federal grant opportunities for Guam’s coral reef projects, research, invasive/nuisance species control, and community monitoring programs.
The bipartisan bill builds on legislation that the Congresswoman has sponsored in the House since 2009. Importantly, the 2018 bill reflects coral reef conservation work, government-wide, including new Congressional directive for the U.S. Department of the Interior to conserve coral reefs within National Parks, National Wildlife Refuges, and Marine National Monuments and to support conservation efforts in U.S. territories, the three Freely Associated States in the Pacific, and federally recognized Indian tribes.
“Guam’s coral reefs safeguard our island home and draw visitors from around the world. My bill would secure additional federal resources to help protect our coral reefs, which provide our fishermen’s livelihood and protect coastal homes as natural breakwaters,” said Congresswoman Bordallo. “My Coral Reef Conservation Reauthorization Act requires a government-wide effort to protect Guam’s irreplaceable corals and those nationwide. I will make this bill a major priority of my work on the House Natural Resources Committee.”
- Expands federal grant making for local coral reef projects, including conservation, research, restoration, and monitoring efforts. If enacted into law, this will provide more federal funding opportunities for Guam’s “Eyes of the Reef Marianas” program and the important coral ecosystem research underway at the University of Guam’s Marine Laboratory.
- Provides explicit Congressional authorization for the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force and ensures full voting representation for Guam and other U.S. territories, along with the governors of Hawaii and Florida, in advising on national priorities for coral reef conservation. The Coral Reef Task Force currently operates under a 1998 executive order that could be rescinded by the Administration.
- Strengthens federal government’s response to coral reef emergencies, including vessel impacts, bleaching events, harmful algal blooms, and unexploded ordinance. The grounding of a French naval vessel on Guam in May 2017 during a joint-military exercise highlighted the need for improved federal response and long-term coral reef restoration efforts.
- Authorizes the U.S. Department of the Interior to carry out coral reef conservation activities in U.S. territorial waters and for near-shore coral reefs within federal land units like the Guam National Wildlife Refuge and Marianas Trench Marine National Monument.
- Provides Congressional authorization for the Office of Insular Affairs’ Coral Reef Initiative to support conservation projects in U.S. territories and the three Freely Associated States in the Pacific.
- Provides Congressional authorization for the U.S. Geological Survey’s (USGS) Coral Reef Ecosystem Studies program to advance research, particularly watershed-based coral reef conservation science.
- Directs any fines, penalties, and amounts recovered from damages to federally protected coral reefs to support conservation efforts.