Bipartisan Bill To Restore And Conserve Coral Reefs

August 3, 2019, 5:43 AM HST · Updated August 3, 5:43 AM
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U.S. Senators Brian Schatz and Mazie Hirono of Hawai‘i joined fellow Senators Marco Rubio and Rick Scott of Florida, and Representatives Darren Soto (D-Fla.) and Jenniffer González-Colón (R-P.R.) in introducing the Restoring Resilient Reefs Act of 2019.

Backers of the bipartisan and bicameral bill say that it would “reauthorize and modernize” the Coral Reef Conservation Act of 2000. The Coral Reef Conservation Act, which expired 15 years ago, was designed to promote the conservation of the nation’s reefs.

According to backers of the bill, The Restoring Resilient Reefs Act:

  • authorizes five years of directed federal funding and technical assistance to states for the restoration and management of coral reef ecosystems,
  • encourages innovative new Coral Reef Stewardship Partnerships among resource management agencies, research centers, and community stakeholders,
  • and codifies and updates the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force.

“From never-before-seen levels of bleaching in the Pacific, to unprecedented devastation from disease in the Atlantic, coral reefs need urgent help. Our bill gives local governments and communities the federal resources to help save Hawai‘i’s corals,” Sen. Schatz said.

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“Coral reefs provide essential ecosystem services to not only our oceans, but also to our island and coastal communities. The long-term ecological and economic impacts of coral bleaching pose serious threats to our way of life,” Senator Hirono said. “The Restoring Resilient Reefs Act would provide important tools to preserve and sustain the condition of our coral reef ecosystems through community-based management programs. Our bill is a step in the right direction to ensuring that communities that depend on healthy oceans, like those in Hawai‘i, have the resources they need for protecting coral reefs.”

Additional original cosponsors of the House bill include Representatives Charlie Crist (D-Fla.), Brian Mast (R-Fla.), Stephanie Murphy (D-Fla.), Amata Coleman Radewagen (R-AS), and Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawai‘i).

Coral bleaching. PC: Hawai‘i DLNR.

“The Restoring Resilient Reefs Act of 2019 would provide critical support to conserve and restore Hawai‘i’s coral reefs at a time when predictions indicate Hawai‘i is headed toward another major coral bleaching event this summer. Coral reefs provide a wide range of cultural, ecological and economic benefits. Also, reefs provide vital shoreline protection for Hawai‘i, which is especially relevant now during hurricane season. This Legislation provides the critical tools, funding and a pathway for implementing the best science and management actions to support the persistence and restoration of coral reefs,” said Suzanne Case, Chair of the State of Hawai‘i’s Department of Land and Natural Resources.

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