Office of the Press Secretary
MEMORANDUM FOR THE SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR
SUBJECT: Protection of U.S. Coral Reefs in the
The worlds coral reefs -- our tropical rain forests of the water -- are in serious decline. These important and sensitive areas of biodiversity warrant special protection. While the United States has only 3 percent of the worlds coral reefs, nearly 70 percent of U.S. coral reefs are in the Northwest Hawaiian Islands. Many of the Northwest Hawaiian Islands' coral, fish, and invertebrate species are unique, and the area is home to endangered Hawaiian monk seals and threatened turtles. -In 1909, President Theodore Roosevelt set aside certain islands and reefs in the Northwest Hawaiian Islands for the protection of sea birds. Today, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service manages this area as the Hawaiian Islands National Wildlife Refuge.
In June 1998, I signed an Executive Order for Coral Reef
Protection (E.O. 13089), which established the Coral Reef Task Force
and directed all Federal agencies with coral reef-related responsibilities
to develop a strategy for coral reef protection. States and territories
with coral reefs were invited to be full partners with the Federal Government
in preparing an action plan to better protect and preserve the Nation's
coral reef ecosystems. In March of this year, the Task Force issued
the National Action Plan to Conserve Coral Reefs. The Plan lays out
a science-based road map to healthy coral reefs for future generations,
based on two fundamental strategies: promoting understanding of
It is time now to take the Coral Reef Task Force's recommendations and implement them to ensure the comprehensive protection of the coral reef ecosystem of the Northwest Hawaiian Islands through a coordinated effort among the Departments of the Interior and Commerce and the State of Hawaii.
Accordingly, I have determined that it is in the best
interest of our Nation, and of future generations, to provide strong
and lasting protection for the coral reef ecosystem of the Northwest
Hawaiian Islands, and I am directing you to initiate an administra-tive
process to that end. Specifically, I direct you, working coopera-tively
with the State of Hawaii and consulting with the Western Pacific Fisheries
Management Council, to develop recommendations within 90 days for a
The recommendations should also:
I also direct that during the 90-day period, the Departments shall conduct "visioning" sessions, which would provide opportunities for public hearing and comment to help shape the final recommendations.
With this new effort, we are taking strides to fulfill the goal of the Coral Reef Task Force to protect our precious coral reefs for the benefit of future generations.
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