|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE|
|Date:||December 5, 2001|
|Contact:||Mary Munson, National Parks Conservation Association, 954-649-6327|
Coral Reef Task Force to Set 2002 Agenda
WHEN: December 5, 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.
WHERE: National Geographic Society, Main Auditorium
1145 17th Street, N.W., Washington, D.C.
The U.S. Coral Reef Task Force, a commission chaired by the secretaries of the Interior and Commerce and composed of the leaders of 11 federal agencies and the governors of seven states, territories, or commonwealths that contain coral reefs, leads America's strategic planning on coral reef conservation efforts. The task force has set a national goal to designate at least 20 percent of U.S. coral reefs as protected no-take reserves by 2010. No-take reserves prohibit reef fishing and other potentially destructive activities.
The Secretary of Interior announced in 1998 that all 10 national parks that house substantial coral reefs must review and revise their management plans by 2003. These plans guide park managers on how they will protect park resources and must include strategies to inventory, monitor, and restore damaged reefs and must ensure protection from recreational and commercial uses.
"Coral reefs are the rainforests of the sea, home to a greater variety of species than any other place else on Earth," says Mary Munson, director of the National Parks Conservation Association's Marine Program. "National parks that include coral reefs can help the nation meet its goals for protecting these rich underwater worlds. Administrators need to establish no-take zones in these parks. In addition, Congress should establish new national parks specifically to protect these reefs."
Scientists estimate that 10 percent of U.S. coral reefs already have disappeared. Two-thirds of remaining U.S. reefs face immediate danger of extinction. Reefs protect coastal areas from storm damage, erosion, and flooding by buffering the impact of powerful waves. Healthy reefs worldwide also strengthen local economies by attracting tourists and generating more than $100 million annually from coral reef fisheries.