[Senate Hearing 106-1041]
[From the U.S. Government Printing Office]
S. Hrg. 106-1041
CORAL REEF CONSERVATION AND THE
REAUTHORIZATION OF THE NATIONAL
MARINE SANCTUARIES ACT
SUBCOMMITTEE ON OCEANS AND FISHERIES
COMMITTEE ON COMMERCE,
SCIENCE, AND TRANSPORTATION
UNITED STATES SENATE
ONE HUNDRED SIXTH CONGRESS
JUNE 30, 1999
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SENATE COMMITTEE ON COMMERCE, SCIENCE, AND TRANSPORTATION
ONE HUNDRED SIXTH CONGRESS
JOHN McCAIN, Arizona, Chairman
TED STEVENS, Alaska ERNEST F. HOLLINGS, South Carolina
CONRAD BURNS, Montana DANIEL K. INOUYE, Hawaii
SLADE GORTON, Washington JOHN D. ROCKEFELLER IV, West
TRENT LOTT, Mississippi Virginia
KAY BAILEY HUTCHISON, Texas JOHN F. KERRY, Massachusetts
OLYMPIA J. SNOWE, Maine JOHN B. BREAUX, Louisiana
JOHN ASHCROFT, Missouri RICHARD H. BRYAN, Nevada
BILL FRIST, Tennessee BYRON L. DORGAN, North Dakota
SPENCER ABRAHAM, Michigan RON WYDEN, Oregon
SAM BROWNBACK, Kansas MAX CLELAND, Georgia
Mark Buse, Staff Director
Martha P. Allbright, General Counsel
Ivan A. Schlager, Democratic Chief Counsel and Staff Director
Kevin D. Kayes, Democratic General Counsel
SUBCOMMITTEE ON OCEANS AND FISHERIES
OLYMPIA J. SNOWE, Maine, Chairman
TED STEVENS, Alaska JOHN F. KERRY, Massachusetts
SLADE GORTON, Washington DANIEL K. INOUYE, Hawaii
KAY BAILEY HUTCHISON, Texas JOHN B. BREAUX, Louisiana
C O N T E N T S
Hearing held June 30, 1999....................................... 1
Statement of Senator Breaux...................................... 7
Prepared statement........................................... 7
Prepared statement and letters of support submitted by Senator
Statement of Senator Kerry....................................... 4
Prepared statement........................................... 5
Statement of Senator Snowe....................................... 1
Statement of Senator Stevens..................................... 3
Collins, Michael S., Fishing Guide, Islamorada, Florida.......... 82
Conner, Michael S., Ph.D., Vice President, for Programs and
Exhibits, New England Aquarium, Central Wharf, Boston
Prepared statement........................................... 86
Cooper, C. Renee, Executive Director, Caribbean Marine Research
Prepared statement and attachments........................... 61
Dustan, Phillip, Ph.D., Science Advisor, The Cousteau Society.... 67
Prepared statement and attachments........................... 71
Hunter, Cynthia, Ph.D., Curator, Waikiki Aquarium, University of
Prepared statement........................................... 81
Yozell, Sally, Deputy Assistant Secretary, of Commerce for Oceans
and Atmosphere, U.S. Department of Commerce; accompanied by:
Michael P. Crosby, Ph.D., Science Advisory Board, National
Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Department of
Commerce; and Ed Lindelof, Acting Manager, Gerry E. Studds
Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, NOAA................ 19
Prepared statement........................................... 20
Administration's bill........................................ 27
Center for Marine Conservation, The Marine Conservation Biology
Institute, American Oceans Campaign, The Environmental Defense
Fund and World Wildlife Fund, on National Marine Sanctuaries
and Coral Reefs, joint prepared statement...................... 114
Colwell, Stephen, Executive Director, Coral Reef Aliance (CORAL),
Director of the International Coral Reef Action Network (ICRAN)
Public Awareness Program, and Member of the International Coral
Reef Initiative (ICRI) Coordinating and Planning Committee,
prepared statement............................................. 113
Graham, Bob, U.S. Senator from Florida, prepared statement....... 99
Harrison, Debra S., AICP, Florida Keys Director, World Wildlife
Fund, prepared statement....................................... 118
Raney, Dave, Volunteer Member, Sierra Club's National Marine
Wildlife and Habitat Committee, who heads the Club's Coral Reef
Working Group, prepared testimony.............................. 112
Response to Written Question submitted by Hon. Max Cleland to:
Sally Yozell................................................. 100
Response to Written Question submitted by Hon. John F. Kerry to:
Sally Yozell................................................. 100
Response to Written Questions submitted by Hon. Olympia J. Snowe
Sally Yozell................................................. 101
Williams, Nora, Monroe County Commissioner, Monroe County,
Florida, letter and prepared testimony......................... 117
CORAL REEF CONSERVATION AND THE
REAUTHORIZATION OF THE NATIONAL
MARINE SANCTUARIES ACT
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 30, 1999
Subcommittee on Oceans and Fisheries,
Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation,
The Subcommittee met, pursuant to notice, at 2:36 p.m. in
room SR-253, Russell Senate Office Building, Hon. Olympia J.
Snowe, Chairman, presiding.
Staff members assigned to this hearing: Sloan Rappoport,
Republican counsel and Stephanie Bailenson, Republican
professional staff; and Margaret Spring, Democratic senior
OPENING STATEMENT OF HON. OLYMPIA J. SNOWE,
U.S. SENATOR FROM MAINE
Senator Snowe. The hearing will come to order.
Before I begin, I would like to welcome the witnesses and
others in attendance today for this hearing. I thank you all
At today's hearing we will be exploring coral reef
conservation issues and matters relating to the reauthorization
of the National Marine Sanctuaries Act. There is wide agreement
that coral reefs are in decline. Today we will be addressing
the status of coral reefs and what can be done to reverse this
decline. We will also be hearing about the need to conserve our
marine resources through the use of national marine
sanctuaries. The successes and shortcomings of this program, as
well as ways to improve it, will also be addressed by several
of our witnesses.
First let me say a few words about coral reefs. They are
perhaps one of the world's most biologically diverse and
productive ecosystems. Coral reefs serve as essential habitat
for many living marine creatures, enhancing commercial
fisheries and stimulating tourism. They provide protection to
coastal areas from storm surges and erosion and offer many
untold potential benefits. For example, new drugs to fight
cancer are currently being developed as a result of coral-
Unfortunately, coral reef ecosystems are in decline. In
1998 coral reefs around the world appear to have suffered the
most severe bleaching event in modern times. You can see what a
bleached coral looks like in the poster that is to my left.
There is a stark contrast between the healthy coral in the
foreground and the bleached coral in the background.
Last year, reefs in at least 60 countries were affected and
in some areas more than 70 percent of these corals died. These
impacts have been attributed to the warmest ocean temperatures
in 600 years. The repercussions of the 1998 event will be far-
reaching in time and in economic impact.
It has also been estimated that 58 percent of the world's
reefs are threatened by human activities, such as inappropriate
coastal development and destructive fishing practices. As a
result of these various pressures, coral reef habitats have
been damaged and in some cases destroyed. Further, coral
diseases are expanding rapidly. An example is one coral
disease, black band disease, which also can be seen on this
graph to my left. Like most of the diseases currently being
studied, the causes are not widely understood.
These serious problems highlight the need for better
conservation and improved management. Unfortunately, the United
States has not been immune to these problems. We have large
coral reef systems off the coast of Texas, Florida, Hawaii, and
various U.S. territories in the Caribbean and the Pacific.
These reefs produce significant economic benefits for their
surrounding communities. In Senator Inouye's home State of
Hawaii, for example, the reefs contribute approximately $1.13
billion annually to the State economy.
On March 25, 1999, I introduced along with Senator McCain,
the full Committee Chairman, the Coral Reef Conservation Act of
1999, S. 725, as an attempt to remedy these serious problems.
This bill is a realistic and responsible measure which
addresses the most urgent coral reef conservation needs.
This bill authorizes $3.8 million in each of the next three
fiscal years for a coral reef conservation program at NOAA.
This program will provide conservation and research grants to
States, U.S. territories, and qualified nongovernmental
entities. Eligible projects will focus on the type of local
conservation measures that have been called for by the
international community of coral reef scientists and managers
as part of the International Coral Reef Initiative's renewed
call to action. This call is echoed in the U.S. Coral Reef Task
Force's Islands Initiative.
The bill also authorizes NOAA to enter into an agreement
with a qualified nongovernmental organization to create a coral
reef trust fund that will match Federal funds with private
contributions to provide additional money for worthy
conservation and research projects. The public-private
partnership envisioned by this bill will maximize Federal
dollars and increase the overall funding of coral reef
conservation projects in a responsible manner. This will help
to ensure the longevity of any project and aid local entities
in building the necessary capacity to carry out continued
In addition, this bill authorizes $200,000 in each of the
next three fiscal years for emergency assistance to address
unforeseen or disaster-related problems pertaining to coral
reefs, such as hurricanes and typhoons. One mechanism currently
being used by the Federal Government to protect coral reefs and
many other important marine resources is the national marine
sanctuaries program. 100 years after the first national park
was created, the U.S. made a similar commitment to preserving
its valuable marine resources by establishing the national
marine sanctuaries program in 1972.
Since then 12 areas covering a wide range of marine
habitats have been designated as national marine sanctuaries.
Again, on my left you can see in the chart the distribution of
designated sanctuaries. Half of these designations have
occurred in the last decade.
Today our marine sanctuaries encompass everything from
marine mammal nursery grounds to underwater archaeological
sites. Together these sanctuaries protect nearly 18,000 square
miles of ocean waters, an area nearly the size of Vermont and
New Hampshire combined.
Acting as a platform for better ocean stewardship, these
sanctuaries offer an opportunity for research, outreach, and
educational activities. These national marine sanctuaries are
also a model for multiple use management in the marine
environment. Obviously, balancing the protection of public
resources with fostering economic activities requires the
cooperative efforts of Federal, State, and local government, as
well as nongovernmental organizations and the public. There are
many of these partnerships working together within the national
marine sanctuaries program.
One of these sanctuaries is located off the coast of
Senator Kerry's State--good timing--of Massachusetts in the
Gulf of Maine. The Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary
Program provides feeding and nursery grounds for more than a
dozen marine mammal species. This has led to the development of
a thriving whale-watching tourist trade. The area also supports
important commercial fisheries for lobster, bluefin tuna, cod,
and others. Historic data also strongly suggest the presence of
several shipwrecks within the sanctuaries.
Today commercial shipping lanes still exist through the
sanctuary. Through careful management and cooperation, all of
these diverse uses coexist in a national marine sanctuary while
providing protection to the marine resources. This is just one
example of the diverse management opportunities available
within the system. I look forward to hearing of more examples
The National Marine Sanctuaries Act expires at the end of
this current fiscal year. The 1999 reauthorization of the act,
coupled with the Coral Reef Conservation Act, will provide a
vision for marine resource protection that will shape policy
decisions well into the next century.
We have assembled an excellent slate of witnesses to advise
the committee on the best course of action. I am very pleased
that all of you could be here today to tell us not only what
needs to be done to protect the Nation's marine resources, but
also the very serious costs that will result from not
protecting them. I look forward to your testimony here today.
Senator Kerry. I would be delighted to let Senator Stevens
go if he wants to.
Senator Snowe. Senator Stevens.
STATEMENT OF HON. TED STEVENS,
U.S. SENATOR FROM ALASKA
Senator Stevens. No, thank you.
STATEMENT OF HON. JOHN F. KERRY,
U.S. SENATOR FROM MASSACHUSETTS
Senator Kerry. Well, Madam Chairwoman, thank you very much
for having this hearing. I certainly welcome our
representatives here to discuss this issue. I appreciate
enormously your concern and the Committee's concern about this
issue. Needless to say, all of us serve on this Committee
because we are deeply committed to the linkage of our States to
the ocean and to the water bodies that are linked to us.
For two of us, the Atlantic is our home. Both of our
States, Maine and Massachusetts, and obviously the rest of our
colleagues in the New England area, depend enormously on that
linkage. Senator Stevens has the same concerns. His population
has lived off the sea for years, and set a huge example for all
of us about the connection between our States and the ocean. I
know that he, as ranking member, as chairperson of the
Subcommittee from time to time, and in his role on the
Appropriations Committee, labors hard to assist us to put the
appropriate resources where they ought to be.
This discussion today is part of a larger mosaic that
concerns all of us: the overall protection that we are
affording to the ecosystem within the ocean and the benefits
that the ocean represents to us. The National Marine
Sanctuaries Act itself is one component of that, and it
provides a unique coastal habitat protection effort and
encourages natural resource management. I think the Act has
done this pretty competently and pretty effectively, though
since the time when I was chairman of this subcommittee we have
been fighting for resources. That has been the long fight.
This is not like some other programs that we fund. Although
nearly all funding mistakes have measurable negative
consequences, the negative consequences that come with our lack
of sufficient effort with respect to habitat protection and
living marine resource management are too often irreversible.
The consequences of--anybody who is a neutral observer of the
journey we are on cannot help but conclude that, rather than
gaining ground as we think we ought to be, we are still losing
We need to be deeply, deeply concerned about that. There
are great examples, such as the lobster catch, the striped bass
in Massachusetts, and other efforts, where we have really shut
down, been smart, conserved, and brought back the capacity of
the fish stocks.
However, there are other examples today where species are
almost extinct or habitat is almost so destroyed, such as coral
reefs and the dead zones down where our colleague from
Louisiana comes from. I think these areas need greater focus.
We in Massachusetts are blessed to have about a million
people a year come now to enjoy the Studds Stellwagen Bank
National Marine Sanctuary, which sustains humpback whales,
right whales, and commercial species. It has entered into a
wonderful partnership with the New England Aquarium to enhance
our understanding of those natural systems and to educate the
public. That is the kind of partnership that I think we should
be encouraging and leveraging on a broader basis.
We will hear today from Mike Connor about that, and we will
realize the ways in which we have only just begun to really
enjoy the benefits of this kind of education and resource
As we have done with the sanctuary program, we are now also
working to create a comprehensive program to protect the coral
reefs. I want to congratulate both the chairwoman and Senator
Inouye for the leadership that they have shown by advancing
Each year the threats to our coral reefs increase from
human choices, from population growth on our coasts, from
expanding tourism, from runoff pollution, from destructive
fishing, and now, according to the science that we are being
provided with, from climate change. Evidence is mounting that
the warming climate and the warming oceans are killing reefs,
leaving them bleached and barren of the infinite biodiversity
that they once supported.
Along with Senators Breaux and Hollings, I am pleased to be
an original sponsor of the Coral Reef Protection Act of 1999. I
think it will help create the kind of science-based restoration
and preservation efforts that we need, and it encourages the
partnership with a matching program with real money. I think
the $20 million per year it provides, is the kind of
significant investment that we need to make.
NOAA is already spending about $13 million for basic work
on coral conservation, and we are told by the U.S. Coral Reef
Task Force this is simply not enough.
It is my hope that we can all join together on a larger
coastal protection act, and I hope very much that we can do
that in the short term. I think we need a bipartisan,
committee-broad approach in order to address these very
significant issues that we face.
Thank you, Madam Chairwoman, for your indulgence and I look
forward to the hearing today.
[The prepared statement of Senator Kerry follows:]
Prepared Statement of Hon. John F. Kerry,
U.S. Senator from Massachusetts
Thank you Madam Chairwoman.
The legislation we are discussing today is a priority for my home
state. After all, Massachusetts is inexorably linked to the ocean. The
Atlantic is home to our fisheries, generates tourism, draws us for our
summer vacations and connects us to our maritime history. I have also
advocated for stronger protections for our oceans globally.
Shortsighted development and pollution are destroying marine
ecosystems--and I view the legislation we will discuss today as part of
our nation's effort to protect the oceans worldwide.
To meet the challenge of coastal and ocean stewardship, Congress
has tried to develop innovative programs for the long-term protection,
conservation, utilization and management of our vulnerable marine
resources. This includes the National Marine Sanctuaries Act.
The Sanctuary Program protects unique coastal habitat, marine
biological diversity and fishery stocks, and it encourages natural
resource management with appropriate recreational and commercial
activities. It is not easy to balance the sometimes destructive results
of economic growth and development with coastal stewardship, but I
believe this program is a proven success at balancing conservation and
public use. The recent compromise plan among user groups in the
Tortugas 2000 Reserve is one example of this.
My complaint with the Sanctuaries program is that we have
underfunded it. When I worked to reauthorize this program in 1996, we
sought $45 million over three years to fund the management of the
existing marine sanctuaries. Since that reauthorization, the program
has continued to demonstrate its effectiveness and value. I am
fortunate to have watched this progress first hand in Massachusetts.
The Studds Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary sits just off
the Massachusetts coast. It's a unique area that sustains humpback
whales, right whales and commercial species. Each year, over 1 million
people ride the whale watching boats to see these magnificent creatures
As we will hear today, the Stellwagen has partnered with the New
England Aquarium to enhance our understanding of the sanctuary's
natural systems and to educate the public. It is just the kind of
public-private partnership we envisioned for this program and that I
want to encourage across government.
However, the story of Stellwagen is more about potential than it is
about past accomplishments.
As we will hear today from Mike Connor of the New England Aquarium,
we have only begun to realize the benefits of the Sanctuary program in
terms of education and resource protection. But we can only capture
this potential if we are willing to make the investment of federal
I will soon introduce legislation called the Coastal Stewardship
Act with Senators Hollings, Breaux, Inouye, Boxer and Feinstein. This
comprehensive proposal includes authorization of $35 million per year
for the Sanctuaries program. This will more than double the program's
budget and is in line with proposed increases from the Clinton
Administration and others. I strongly believe these additional
resources are justified.
As we have done with the Sanctuary Program, this Committee is now
working to create a comprehensive program to protect coral reefs. I
want to congratulate both the Chairwoman and Senator Inouye for the
leadership they have shown by advancing legislative proposals.
As with so many of our marine issues, we are in race to save our
reefs. Each year the threats to our coral reefs increase from
population growth on our coasts, expanding tourism, runoff pollution,
destructive fishing and, now, the emerging threat of climate change is
taking toll. Evidence is mounting that our warming climate and warming
oceans are killing reefs, leaving them ``bleached'' of their color and
barren of the almost infinite biodiversity they once supported.
Along with Senators Breaux and Hollings, I am an original cosponsor
of Senator Inouye's proposal, the Coral Reef Protection Act of 1999. I
believe it will create the kind of science-based restoration and
preservation efforts we need. It also would extend funding to protect
the deep water coral communities that support fisheries in place like
the Gulf of Mexico and Georges Bank. Like the Sanctuary program, it
encourages cooperation and partnerships with a matching program. And
the $20 million per year it provides is the kind of significant
investment we need to make in protecting these irreplaceable marine
resources. Already, NOAA spends $13 million for basic work on coral
reef conservation and the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force tells us this is
I have included Senator Inouye's proposal in my Coastal Stewardship
Act because I want us to explore every avenue we can to get federal
support for reef protection. In addition, the Coastal Stewardship Act
has dedicated funding to reduce polluted runoff. Polluted runoff can
choke reefs and, alone or in combination with other stresses, cause
disease and other pathologies. We need to tackle that problem as well.
The unfortunate fact is that our oceans are dying. We are losing
coral reefs and marine species. Harmful algae blooms and dead zones are
becoming more common. And our commercial fisheries are in decline.
The Sanctuary program and this new reef initiative are some the
best opportunities we have to restore and preserve marine habitat, to
explore and understand ocean and coastal ecosystems, and to educated
the public about the important role our oceans and coasts play in our
environment and economy.
It is my hope that with the our earlier hearing on the Coastal Zone
Management Act and this hearing today, with these new coral reef
proposals, and with my Coastal Stewardship Act, we can find a way to
reverse the destructive trend and start restoring and preserving our
coastal and ocean environment.
I want thank the Chairwoman and I look forward to hearing from our
Senator Snowe. Thank you very much, Senator Kerry.
Senator Breaux, do you have any opening statement?
STATEMENT OF HON. JOHN B. BREAUX,
U.S. SENATOR FROM LOUISIANA
Senator Breaux. No. I ask that my full statement be
included in the record at this time.
[The prepared statement of Senator Breaux follows:]
Prepared Statement of Hon. John B. Breaux, U.S. Senator from Louisiana
I want to thank Senator Snowe for holding this hearing and our
panel of witnesses for joining us today.
The fact that this hearing is being held today is timely and I must
admit somewhat coincidental. Just a few weeks ago while reading my
Yachting Magazine (and dreaming of my next boat), I came across an
article--Who is Killing The Reefs of Florida? As an avid recreational
diver, I found the article not only interesting to read, but also
When I read the words ``scientists say a constant bombing of fresh
water, very rich in nitrogen and phosphorous, is more than the coral
can bear,'' I immediately thought of the legislation Senator Snowe and
I sponsored last year, The Harmful Algal Bloom and Hypoxia Control Act
(Dead Zone). The similarities being that nitrogen and phosphorous
runoff believed to have created a 7,000 square mile dead zone in the
Gulf of Mexico are also responsible for the degradation of coral reefs.
Equally important, I also thought of the United States' substantial
coral reefs holdings, including the Flower Garden Banks on the Texas/
Louisiana maritime border in the Gulf of Mexico (the northern most
coral reefs in North America). I then thought what a tragedy it would
be if our children and grandchildren did not have the same
opportunities many of us have had.
These opportunities cover the gamut. Coral reefs are an essential
source of food, jobs, recreation and revenue generated by fishing,
tourism and research industries. It disturbs me to know that
environmental studies indicate our nation's reefs continue to be
threatened by pollution, over-fishing and severe climate changes.
I believe that the Coral Reef Protection Act of 1999 introduced by
Senator Inouye and cosponsored by Senators Akaka, Kerry, Hollings,
Boxer, Feinstein and myself establishes a comprehensive program to
address this serious problem.
It would authorize appropriations totaling $100 million over a
period of five years to preserve, sustain, and restore the health of
U.S. coral reef ecosystems and assist in the conservation and
protection of coral reefs by supporting conservation programs.
Additionally, this legislation would leverage the federal dollars
appropriated for these purposes by establishing a formal mechanism for
collecting and allocating matching monetary donations from the private
sector to be used for coral reef conservation projects. This
authorization would support the President's Lands Legacy Initiative;
the Coral Reef Task Force, established last year by Presidential
Executive Order; the United States Coral Reef Initiative; and other
ongoing efforts to ensure the long-term health and sustainability of
coral reef ecosystems.
The Coral Reef Protection Act of 1999 would also authorize $15
million per year in grants to support coral reef and coral reef
ecosystem conservation and restoration projects. Any relevant State or
territorial natural resource management authority or other government
authority with jurisdiction over coral reefs or coral reef ecosystems,
or educational or non-governmental institutions with demonstrated
expertise in the conservation of coral reefs would be eligible to apply
for these grants, which would be administered by the Secretary of
Commerce. Except for projects costing less than $25,000, or specific
exemptions granted by the Secretary, these grants would be subject to a
25% non-federal matching requirement.
The answer to the question, ``Who's killing the reefs?'' is all of
us, and until we do a better job working together, the end of our coral
reef treasures is rapidly approaching.
I am prepared to travel to a Florida coral reef or other mutually
agreeable reef site to witness first hand not only the beauty and
tranquility of coral reefs and marine sanctuaries, but also the
degradation caused by human influence and inteference.
In closing, I want to thank the Chair and witnesses again. I look
forward to our discussion today and to working with the Committee in
the coming months to pass this important legislation.
[The prepared statement of Senator Inouye and letters of
Statement of Hon. Daniel K. Inouye, U.S. Senator from Hawaii
Both of the subjects before us today, the protection and
conservation of America's coral reef resources and reauthorization of
the National Marine Sanctuaries Act, represent important opportunities
to protect some of our country's richest natural treasures and to
provide significant new resources which will support a new conservation
vision for the 21st century. I believe that today's hearing will
clearly demonstrate the importance of these programs and the need for
much greater financial resources for a variety of activities including
research, conservation, restoration and educational outreach.
With respect to coral reefs, I would like to thank Chairman Snowe
for scheduling this hearing to discuss issues of importance to our
national coral reef treasures, and in particular, to discuss S. 725,
the Coral Reef Conservation Act, introduced by Senators Snowe and
McCain, and S. 1253, the Coral Reef Protection Act, introduced on
behalf of myself and Senators Akaka, Hollings, Kerry, Breaux, Boxer and
Feinstein. I look forward to working with the members of this committee
to develop the best possible mechanism for addressing the needs of our
coral reef ecosystems.
It is very important to fully understand the importance of these
fragile ecosystems. Coral reef ecosystems are the marine equivalent of
tropical rain forests. They contain some of this planet's richest
biological diversity, habitats, and systems and provide critical
support to thousands of fish and other species. More than half of this
country's commercial fisheries depend on coral reefs for some part of
their life and the annual value of the commercial and recreational
fisheries associated with coral reef ecosystems exceeds $200 million
per year. In addition, these reef ecosystems support another $2 billion
in tourism every year. Despite this importance to both the environment
and the American economy, very little is currently known about the
condition of coral reefs in the United States. Two points, however, are
clear: coral reefs are threatened whenever they are close to large
concentrations of people, and coral reefs are in decline.
In light of these threats, the economic importance of these
ecosystems, and the as yet unknown promises of pharmaceuticals, food
sources, and other benefits held within these diverse ecosystems, I
have proposed, in S. 1253, the Coral Reef Protection Act of 1999, an
authorization of $20 million per year for the next five years for
research, conservation and restoration of these extremely valuable
resources and to complement and support the efforts of the President's
Coral Reef Task Force which was established by Executive Order last
year. I firmly believe that this is the minimum amount necessary to
address the critical problems facing U.S. coral reefs which have been
identified by the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force; state, territorial, and
local governments; scientists; industry groups; and other
nongovernmental organizations; many of which have sent me persuasive
letters and testimony urging the expeditious adoption of increased
funding to address these threats, especially in the Pacific where more
than 93% of these reefs exist.
Madam Chairman, I respectfully request unanimous consent to include
these letters and testimony as part of the hearing record.
With respect to the National Marine Sanctuary Program, I fully
support the reauthorization of this important program. The Hawaiian
Islands National Marine Sanctuary Program is only 16 months old, but
has exceeded all expectations through its comprehensive and innovative
sanctuary awareness and educational outreach programs. This sanctuary
has a large dedicated volunteer force and has forged successful public-
private partnerships to enhance its activities and strengthen community
support for the sanctuary.
Madam Chairman, I look forward to working with you and the other
members of the Commerce Committee to address the pressing needs
associated with coral reefs and marine sanctuaries.
June 28, 1999
The Honorable Daniel K. Inouye
United States Senate
722 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510-2201
Dear Senator Inouye:
The State of Hawaii fully supports Senate Bill 1253, the Coral Reef
Protection Act of 1999. The livelihood of our island economy depends on
the health of the coral reef ecosystem for everything from shoreline
protection to receation and tourism. Hawaii is sorely under-funded in
its ability to properly manage and conserve these coral reef resources,
and we strongly encourage Congress to fully fund this Bill.
Over 80 percent of the coral reef resources within United States
jurisdiction are found within Hawaiian waters. The State of Hawaii
manages 1,500 miles of marine waters representing 410,000 acres of
coral reef resources. The direct economic benefit derived from these
resources is over $1 billion in gross revenues annually. Coral reefs
create our sandy beaches, which are a visitor destination for people
from around the world. Hawaii consistently ranks as one of the best
places in the world for scuba diving. Maintaining the health of the
coral reef ecosystem is vital to our way of life.
The State requests that Senate Bill 1253 be changed to allocate a
specific portion of the funds to the States and Territories that have
direct trustee responsibility for managing coral reefs. Allocation of a
percentage of the funds to those State agencies with direct management
responsibility for coral reef resources will assist the United States
in preserving, sustaining, and where possible, restoring coral reef
Thank you for the opportunity to provide these comments to the
members of the Oceans and Fisheries Subcommittee on this critical piece
With warmest personal regards,
Benjamin J. Cayetano
June 28, 1999
Honorable Daniel K. Inouye
United States Senate
722 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510-2201
Dear Senator Inouye:
Thank you for the opportunity to provide written testimony on
Senate Bill 1253, The Coral Reef Protection Act of 1999. The State of
Hawai'i Department of Land and Natural Resources strongly encourages
Congress to support and fully fund this Bill as these unique ecosystems
are severely stressed and the States and Territories themselves are
sorely underfunded in their ability to properly manage and preserve
The Department of Land and Natural Resources has statutory
authority over management of all coral reef ecosystems within State
waters, from the southernmost island of Hawaii up to Kure Atoll over
1,500 miles to the northwest. The coral reef ecosystems found within
this large expanse constitute the majority of all U.S. reefs. It is the
trustee responsibility of the Department of Land and Natural Resources
to manage over 410,000 acres of coral reef that fall within this area.
Hawaii's coral reefs are viewed as some of the most exceptional and
beautiful aquatic environments on the planet; our fringing reefs alone
abound with more than 5,000 different known species of spectacular and
incredibly diverse marine plants and animals--many of which are
uniquely Hawaiian and found nowhere else on earth. We sincerely
appreciate the opportunity to comment on this Bill and offer the
1. The primary function of S. 1253 is to preserve, sustain and
restore U.S. coral reef ecosystems. Given that the majority of all U.S.
coral reefs lie within State and Territorial waters and that the
agencies responsible for, engaged in, and directly accountable for
those coral reef resources are the states' and territorial natural
resource management agencies these agencies should lead in implementing
the purposes of this Bill. We would like to suggest that a minimum of
20% of the funds allocated for this Bill should be provided to assist
the seven (Hawaii, Florida, American Samoa, CNMI, Guam, Puerto Rico and
the U.S. Virgin Islands) state and territorial natural resource
management agencies with direct trustee responsibilities for coral reef
ecosystems. Use of these funds should go through a similar review
process as suggested under Section 6 of this Bill.
2. Given the critical importance of these unique ecosystems to the
economy, tourism, shoreline protection, fisheries (over 50% of U.S.
commercial fisheries spend a portion of their life cycle associated
with coral reefs), future biomedical and pharmaceutical advances,
recreation and native cultural practices, we strongly encourage full
funding of this Bill. Funding should be used in order to assist the
States and Territories with managing the increasing complexity of
overlapping uses and impacts occurring on these ecosystems and to
protect these national treasures at a time when coral reefs as
ecosystems are becoming increasingly threatened worldwide. Examples of
immediate funding needs include mapping of coral reef resources,
Statewide long-term monitoring of coral reef ecosystems, protection of
key reef resources, and program development to deal with alien species,
nutrification, and overfishing.
Thank you for the opportunity to provide comments on this very
important piece of legislation, The people of Hawaii sincerely thank
the members of the Oceans and Fisheries Subcommittee for their efforts
to help us protect our coral reef resources and ecosystems.
Timothy E. Johns
June 28, 1999
The Honorable Daniel K. Inouye
United States Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510
Re: Coral Reef Protection Act of 1999
Dear Senator Inouye:
It is with great pleasure to hear about your introduction of the S.
1253, Coral Reef Protection Act of 1999. In the wake of the US Senate's
lamentable deletion of the Presidents proposed Lands Legacy Act,
American Samoa is very fortunate to have a champion like you whom the
region can count on for legislative support, I am writing to express my
support of your efforts to secure federal commitment towards the
protection and preservation of the coral reefs ecosystem. I was also
very pleased to read Section 9, concerning certain vessels, which
addresses our longliner issue, which, as you know, has been a top
priority of mine.
American Samoa along with its Insular Areas counterparts has worked
hard to promote the US Coral Reefs Initiative ever since the
announcement was first made in the early 90's, To that end, the Insular
Area developed an Action Plan that was endorsed for phority funding by
the President's CRI Task Force in February, 1999, at its annual meeting
in Maui. Following the Maui Meeting, the Insular Area was tasked by the
Task Force to update its priorities and have it submitted in July's
meeting in San Diego. This has continued in spite of the lack of any
federal appropriations to the Insular Area.
Our own local Coral Reef Task Force has been working to designate
projects vital to the protection of our coral reef resources, they
recently concluded a three-day workshop developing a five-year research
and monitoring plan for the Territory. The cooperation between local
and federal agencies here insured a well-crafted plan, which will be
presented at the next US Coral Reef Task Force Meeting. However, many
of the crucial elements of the plan depend upon financial commitment
from the Federal Government. We hope that with your efforts on this
proposed legislation we will be able to carry out our local priorities.
In general, the proposed legislation is very comprehensive and we
just want to offer some minor suggestions.
1. Under Criteria for Approval (2g): replace the word ``port''
and ``ports'' on the second line with the word ``part''.
2. Under SECTION 6 subsection (l) Technical Assistant: insert
the word ``Territory'' following State.
You have my full support and if there is anything we in American
Samoa can do to assist, please don't hesitate to call on me or Mr.
Lelei Peau, American Samoa's CRI Point of Contact.
Tauese P.F. Sunia
Governor of American Samoa
June 25, 1999
The Honorable Daniel K. Inouye
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510
Dear Senator Inouye
We were pleased to hear of the introduction of S. 1253, Coral Reef
Protection Act of 1999. With the deletion of funding for coral reefs
under the President's Lands Legacy Act, it becomes even more imperative
that action be taken to provide guidance and funding for the
management, intelligent exploitation, conservation and preservation of
these extremely productive and fragile resources.
For those of us who live at the edge of coral reefs, it is all too
apparent that our reefs are in immediate danger, not only from the
daily activities associated with shoreline or island communities, but
from the long term and large scale problems of climate change as well.
If we do nothing, as we have to this point, we will lose not only
billions of dollars in commerce associated with healthy reefs, but we
will lose the ability to live in island environments as well.
Your bill is a very good start toward addressing the problems that
face us. Thus far, since the adoption of the U.S. Coral Reef initiative
in 1994, considerably less than one million dollars has been
appropriated directly applicable to the policies of that Initiative.
Guam has received a total of fifty two thousand dollars ($52,000) in
that five year period, although we also received another one hundred
fifty thousand dollars ($150,000) for emergency reef clean up after
Supertyphoon Paka. The funding allocated thus far is not indicative of
a nation committed to resource protection and management.
In way of specific comment, we would draw your attention, in
Section 5 (Definitions), the definition of ``State''. In order to bring
this definition in line with the intent and title of the bill, we
recommend the addition of the words reef building before the word
``coral'', so that the definition would read.
State: The term ``State'' means any coastal State of the United States
that contains reef building coral within its seaward boundaries, and
American Samoa. Guam, The Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico. and
the U.S. Virgin Islands, and any other commonwealth, territory, or
possession of the United States that contains reef building coral
within its seaward boundries.
I fully support the intent of your legislation, and applaud you for
taking this initiative. If I can be of any further assistance in
achieving legislation that helps us preserve this invaluable resource
fbr future generations, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Very truly yours,
Carl T. C. Gutierrez
Governor of Guam
June 25, 1999
The Honorable Daniel K. Inouye
Member, Oceans and Fisheries Subcommittee
Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation
United States Senate
SH-428 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington. DC 20510
Dear Senator Inouye:
Re: S. 1253, Coral Reef Protection Act of 1999
Thank you for the opportunity to comment on S. 1253, the Coral Reef
Protection Act of 1999. The Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana
Islands (CNMI) contains some of the most biologically diverse and
pristine reefs amongst the American Pacific Islands. These reefs are
not only culturally significant, but provide a source of food, storm
protection and sustain our tourism industry.
The Asian economic crisis has significantly affected the economy of
the CNMI, and there are insufficient funds available to adequately
protect our reefs. The CNMI fully supports the intent and funding level
requested in the Coral Reef Protection Act of 1999 and feels passage of
the bill is critical if we are to move forward in coral reef
protection. The funding level specified in the bill would allow the
CNMI and other Pacific islands the means to initiate, develop, and
implement management plans to monitor and protect coral reefs in the
Preservation and protection of the coral reefs under U.S.
Jurisdiction is a meaningful and essential task if we are to pass these
beautiful and irreplaceable resources to the next generation. I commend
you and your colleagues for your vision and support of the Coral Reef
Protection Act of 1999. I pray you are able to draw the necessary
support to pass this crucial bill.
Please let me know if you would like additional information from
us. Again, thank you for the opportunity to comment on this vital bill.
Pedro P. Tenorio
June 28, 1999
Hon. Daniel K. Inouye
722 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Dear Senator Inouye:
I write in support of your bill, S. 1253, authorizing funding for
the conservation of coral reefs.
I was born in a village that existed where it did because of the
existence of a sheltering coral reef. The subsistence economy of the
people in my village was largely dependent upon the fish which
flourished on the reef and within the reef-ringed lagoon. So, I have a
special feeling for and understanding of the beauty, the utility, and
the geographic magnificence of this unique life form, the coral reef.
But coral is not simply a thing of beauty and a quaint reminder of
past ways of life. The mainstay of the Northern Marianas economy is
tourism. And without the 15 miles of protected sandy beach and placid
waters which the reef provides, it is safe to say we would have little
of the tourism-related development we have on our principal island,
Without the reef Saipan would not have a naturally protected port
in which the container ships and fuel vessels that feed our economy can
safely conduct their business. Our other populated islands, Rota and
Tinian, are clearly hampered in their development because of the
incredible expense involved in creating breakwaters sufficient to hold
back the open ocean, something the reef does for Saipan for free.
As can happen with natural cycles and scales of activity that dwarf
our human life spans and ability to comprehend, the reefs of the
Northern Marianas have not always been treated with respect. While the
days of chlorine and dynamite fishing are behind us and the obvious
destruction they caused the reef, more subtle forms of disturbance now
trouble the relationship between island-dwelling people and these great
communities of life which lie offshore. The run-off from the land we
strip of vegetation as we build, the pollutants seeping into the ocean
which grow as our populations grow, the physical destruction that comes
from collectors of coral or ships run aground--all these factors exact
their toll. Forces largely beyond our local control, too--global
warming and the attendant rise in sea level--eat away at the vitality
of our coral reefs.
Thus, your bill is most welcome--as have been the previous acts of
Congress focusing attention on the coral reef and setting policy for
conservation. I cannot express too strongly my support for your
initiative; and I offer to assist in any way I can to see S. 1253
through to enactment.
Juan N. Babauta
June 28, 1999
Honorable Daniel K. Inouye
722 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510
Dear Senator Inouye:
Thank you for providing the Western Pacific Fishery Management
Council an opportunity to provide testimony in support of the ``Coral
Reef Protection Act of 1999''.
Roughly 70% of the world's coral reef are found in the Pacific
Ocean. Moreover, of the total amount of coral reefs under US
jurisdiction, over 90% are located in the Pacific region. While it is
believed that most of these reefs are generally in good condition,
large gaps exist in our current knowledge of the total extent and
health of the coral reef ecosystems found in the Pacific. Many of the
coral reef resources under US jurisdiction have never been surveyed or
There are numerous man-induced and natural threats to the continued
health of coral reefs including excessive resource exploitation,
sedimentation, marine debris, major storms and global climate change. A
serious and growing threat in the central western Pacific is the live
reef-fish trade, estimated to be a $1.2 billion-dollar a year business
based in Hong Kong. In 1996, live giant groupers reportedly sold for
$11,000 each. As Chinese demand for live reef-fish continues to grow,
and many foreign reefs are now denuded of prime specimens, Asian
fishermen continue to move eastward, and are now on the verge of
threatening US reefs in the central and western Pacific. The vastness
of the region, combined with the remoteness of the atolls and small
islands make Pacific coral reefs highly susceptible to ``hit and run''
illegal fishing operations conducted by rogue foreign fishing vessels.
The level of surveillance and enforcement activities necessary to
identify and apprehend these operations requires considerable
resources. Compounding these concerns is the fact that the use of coral
reef resources in federal waters is largely unregulated at present.
Regulations to sustainably use and protect reefs are needed in US
federal waters of the Pacific.
Fundamental to the management and protection of the region's coral
reef ecosystems is the need to assess the health of coral reefs in the
Pacific, map coral reef ecosystems, and monitor the health and threats
that impactreefs. Bridging the gaps in knowledge of the these complex
ecosystems will require a concerted and sustained effort on the part of
the federal, state, territorial and local governments, in partnership
with local communities and NGOs, to manage, protect and preserve these
biologically rich and diverse resources,
The Western Pacific Fishery Council is currently developing a
fishery management plan (FMP) for coral reef ecosystems that will be
implemented next year. The management plan will establish a permit and
reporting requirement for sustainable harvest of reef resources, ban
destructive fishing methods, establish marine protected reef areas,
minimize adverse impacts to reefs, and establish a mechanism for
flexibility to rapidly add new management measures. The FMP intends to
ensure that the long-term economic benefits of coral reef resources are
realized. However, effective implementation, together with all
collaborating agencies and organizations, with require adequate funding
which the ``Coral Reef Protection Act of 1999'' can help provide.
Sufficient resources are urgently needed to better understand,
protect and manage our valuable reef resources, and effectively address
the President's Executive Order on Coral Reefs. The following budgetary
needs for Pacific coral reefs have been estimated for the next five
years: $20 million for mapping and habitat assessment, $10 million for
enforcement, $10 million for reef monitoring, restoration and emergency
response, $10 million for assessment and removal of marine debris in
the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, $5 million for research, $5 million
for the establishment of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), $4 million for
education and public awareness programs, and $3 million for proposed
projects to protect coral reefs under the US Islands Coral Reef
Initiative. Please use all power within your means to ensure successful
passage of the ``Coral Reef Protection Act of 1999'' at $20 million per
Kitty M. Simonds
June 28, 1999
The Honorable Daniel K. Inouye
United States Senator
722 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510
Dear Senator Inouye:
The coral-reef resources of the western Pacific, including those in
Hawaii and other U.S. affiliated territories, are of great economic
value, both in goods and services. In the State of Hawaii alone, coral
reefs generate more than $797 million per year (1998) through the
marine tourism industry (7,000 employees) and another $20 million a
year in fisheries landing. Admission tees into Hanauma Bay coral-reef
park bring $2.6 million annually, with another hundred thousand per
month in concessionaire fees. Coral-reef fishes caught for the aquarium
trade in Hawaii bring in another $800--$900 thousand annually. The
coral reefs of Guam, a small U.S. island with 150 thousand residents,
provide about $149 million per year from scuba-diving tourists. Palau,
a U.S. affiliated island with only about 14,000 residents, obtained
about $7,000 per day ($2.5 million per year) from the Blue Corner dive
site alone in 1992. The total income from tourists in Palau in 1992 was
$13 niillion and has increased in recent years. Nearly all tourist to
Palau conic to dive on the coral reefs.
With the wide-spread depletion of nearshore fisheries resources in
S.E. Asia, the value of the live-fish trade from coral reefs has
increased to over $1 billion per year. Red grouper (Epinephelus akaara)
and spotted grouper (Plectropomus spp.) currently sell for $42/kg. The
Napoleon wrasse (Cheilinus undulatus) sells for $180/ kg, and the lips
have been served in Hong Kong for US $225. One grouper was purchased in
Hong Kong for US $10,256 (South China Morning Post, 28 November 1996).
Seahorses sell for US $850/kg as aphrodisiacs and other medicinal
purposes. Live fish for the aquarium trade now provides $200 million
per year for the Philippines.
The increased value of coral-reef resources and their depletion in
S.E. Asia has compelled the Asian fishermen to exploit resources in
U.S. affiliated areas. Just last week, 50 metric tons of live reef fish
were taken from the Marshall Islands for Hong Kong restaurants. There
have been economic interests expressed to National Marine Fisheries
Service for exploitation of Palmyra Atoll, a U.S. territory without any
regulations or management plan. The Northwest Hawaiian islands coral
reefs have been damaged by over 15 tons of drift net debris, Live-rock
harvesters from Florida have inquired about operating in U.S. Pacific
Coral-reef resources are very productive, but need to be rationally
and carefully managed because the time required to affect a reef or
reef resources is short compared to the time required for recovery. A
pinnacle off Guam was discovered and fished down in 6 months in 1967,
but the fish are still not back after 32 years. A spawning aggregation
of groupers was extracted from Denges Channel in Palau by Taiwanese in
1986 and has still not returned after 13 years. Black-lipped pearl
oysters were harvested on Pearl and Hermes Reefs in the NW Hawaiian
Islands in the 1920s, but subsequent and recent surveys have shown that
the oysters have still not recovered after more than 70 years. The
fastest recovery was 15 years for the corals to return to the state
they were in on Guam at the time of a crown-of-thorns starfish attack
Economically valuable resources of coral reefs are very productive
if managed properly, but if not managed, millions per year are lost for
decades if not forever. When overharvested, spawning aggregations of
groupers and other resources do not recover for decades, if ever.
Overharvesting of herbivores has led to ecosystem-level effects, i.e.,
permanent shift from coral to algae (e.g., Ngederrak Reef in Palau). We
need to develop methods for management of broodstock, for understanding
the complexities of the coral-reef ecosystem, and for replenishment of
Without the Coral Reef Protection Act of 1999, there is simply not
the financial support available to effectively manage the economically
viable and sustainable use of coral-reef resources in the western
Pacific, and for educating the public in the wise use of coral-reef
resources. It is critical that we take effective action now. This Act
will provide the means to do so.
University of Guam
NATIONAL CORAL REEF INSTITUTE
May 10, 1999
The Honorable Daniel K. Inouye
Senate Appropriations Committee
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510
Dear Senator Inouye:
Enclosed please find an Open Letter signed by 144 coral reef
scientists, resource managers and conservationists, including at least
one of your constituents, in support of Congressional appropriation of
the $17.2 million requested in new funding in the President's FY 2000
budget to strengthen U.S. federal, state, territory, and commonwealth
efforts to protect and sustainably use the nation's valuable coral
This includes $12 million in new funds requested by the National
Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Department of Commerce,
and $5.2 million for the Department of the Interior for:
Restoration, emergency response, mapping, monitoring,
research and management capabilities for the National Ocean
Increased protection, research and monitoring in
management areas for the Fish and Wildlife Service
Implementation of monitoring, restoration and
protection measures in managed areas for the National Park
Mapping, monitoring and research into causes of reef
decline for the U. S. Geological Survey
Assistance to territories for coral protection and
management for the Office of Insular Affairs
Open Letter signatories participated in the National Coral Reef
Institute (NCRI)-organized International Conference on Scientific
Aspects of Coral Reef Assessment, Monitoring, and Restoration, held
April 14, 15, & 16, 1999 in Ft. Lauderdale. The major outcomes of the
Conference (listed on the web at http://www.nova.edu/ocean/ncri/ncri--
pos.html) closely correlate with the goals of the Open Letter.
On behalf of all of the signatories, thank you for your time and
attention to this matter.
Richard E. Dodge
TO: Members of Congress, President Clinton, and heads of federal
agencies involved in the U. S. Coral Reef Task Force and the Governors
on the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force.
FROM: Members of the coral reef science and management community in
attendance at the International Conference on Scientific Aspects of
Coral Reef Assessment, Monitoring, and Restoration as listed below.
It is widely accepted that coral reefs are extremely valuable
(biologically, economically, and culturally). It is equally well
understood that coral reefs, both nationally and globally, are in grave
danger due to interactions and combinations of a wide range of human
and natural impacts. Therefore:
Additional efforts are needed
(1) to understand the nature and function of coral reef ecosystems,
(2) to reduce human impacts at all scales,
(3) to best manage and protect reef ecosystems, and
(4) to anticipate and react to long-term, large-scale chance in the
To this end:
We support the Executive Order #13089 on coral reef
protections that established the US CRTF (Coral Reef Task
Force) and their actions to date.
We support Congressional appropriation of the $17.2
million new funding in FY 2000 request to strengthen US
federal, state, territory, and commonwealth efforts to protect
and sustainably use the nation's valuable coral reefs.
(continue to signature pages)
June 24, 1999
Western Pacific Fisheries Management Council
1164 Bishop Street, suite 1400
Honolulu, Hawaii 96813
This letter is to offer support to your effort in assisting Senator
Inouve support his bill in the US Congress entitled ``The Coral Reef
Protection Act of 1999.'' As you are well aware, coral reefs in the
Pacific are increasingly threatened by burgeoning human population
growth in the region. For example, increasing pressure from a variety
of extractive fisheries in the major Hawaiian Islands has reduced the
biomass of reef fish standing crops by about 80-90%. What this means is
that many reefs in Hawaii are virtually barren of fish. We also have a
variety of pollution problems that have degraded the health of reefs in
Hawaii and the US Pacific Islands. These problems range from bleaching
events, to starfish (Acanthaster planci) infestations, to degradation
caused by excessive run-off of land born sediments which end up
clogging some reefs. Marine debris (lost fishing nets, etc.) is another
problem of increasing significance reported to be wreaking havoc, in
some areas, such as the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. Funding for
protection and restoration of coral reefs in the US Western Pacific is
In Hawaii alone, the value of marine eco-tourism has been estimated
at $750 million annually. This industry is vitally dependent on the
health of the reefs for its sustainability. Improved management in the
form of strengthened enforcement of fisheries regulations, more marine
protected areas, the creation of more artificial reefs protected from
fishing, fish stocking research, and pollution mitigation efforts, are
subjects in immediate need of research support. Taking a longer view,
coral reefs are also important in providing protection from storm
erosion and mitigating the threat of rising sea level in many island
communities. Defeat of Senator Inouye's bill would be a serious setback
to any hope of solving many of these problems. It is in the vital
interest of Hawaii and the US Pacific Islands that ``The Coral Reef
Protection Act of 1999'' receive the support it needs for passage.
Thank you for adding your support to this worthy cause.
Richard W. Grigg
Professor of Oceanography
Senator Snowe. We will start with Ms. Sally Yozell, who is
the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and
Atmosphere. Ms. Yozell has been actively involved with the U.S.
Coral Reef Task Force. I know this is your first time
testifying before the Subcommittee and we certainly appreciate
that you could be here today.
Ms. Yozell, you can summarize your testimony and we will
include your entire statement in the record. Please proceed.
STATEMENT OF SALLY YOZELL, DEPUTY ASSISTANT
SECRETARY FOR OCEANS AND ATMOSPHERE, DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE
ACCOMPANIED BY: MICHAEL P. CROSBY, PH.D., SCIENCE ADVISORY
BOARD, NATIONAL OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATION, U.S.
DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE; AND ED LINDELOF, ACTING MANAGER, GERRY
E. STUDDS STELLWAGEN BANK NATIONAL MARINE SANCTUARY, NOAA
Ms. Yozell. Thank you, Madam Chair. Good afternoon.
My name is Sally Yozell. I am the Deputy Assistant
Secretary for Oceans and Atmosphere at U.S. Department of
Commerce, and I thank you for this opportunity to testify today
on the coral reef legislation and the national marine
I am accompanied today by Dr. Michael Crosby, who is one of
our coral experts at NOAA; and I want to, if I could, insert my
statement into the record at this time.
Senator Snowe. Without objection, so ordered.
[The prepared statement of Ms. Yozell follows:]
Prepared Statement of Sally Yozell, Deputy Assistant Secretary for
Oceans and Atmosphere, U.S. Department of Commerce
Good afternoon, Madame Chair and members of the Subcommittee. My
name is Sally Yozell and I am the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Oceans
and Atmosphere for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
(NOAA). I would like to thank you for the opportunity to testify today
on the Administration's proposal to reauthorize the National Marine
Sanctuaries Act (NMSA), and on legislation to protect our coral reefs.
Both the National Marine Sanctuaries Preservation Act of 1999 and
Senator Snowe's and Senator Inouye's coral reef bills will further our
ability to protect our National marine treasures. We at NOAA appreciate
the interest in, and strong support for, the National Marine Sanctuary
(NMS) System and coral reefs demonstrated by the Committee Members.
First, I will discuss the reauthorization of the NMSA and then will
address coral reef protection issues as reflected in S. 725, the Coral
Reef Conservation Act of 1999, and S. 1253, the Coral Reef Protection
Act of 1999.
NATIONAL MARINE SANCTUARIES
In 1972, Congress established the National Marine Sanctuary System
to protect our Nation's ``special places'' in the marine environment.
Today, 25 years later, there are 12 sanctuaries in the system, with a
13th, Thunder Bay in Lake Huron, Michigan undergoing designation. They
range from the historic shipwreck of the Civil War vessel the USS
Monitor, to the 5,300 square miles encompassing the submerged Monterey
Canyon in California. In all, over 18,000 square miles of important
marine habitats, including coral reefs, kelp forests, rocky shores,
sandy beach and open ocean, are managed and protected by NOAA.
I would like to begin first by talking about the important needs
and strong support for the National Marine Sanctuary Program as
identified in the President's Lands Legacy Initiative. Second, I will
highlight some of the recent accomplishments of the National Marine
Sanctuary System. Finally, I would like to present some ideas for the
1999 reauthorization of the NMSA, as presented in the Administration's
proposal transmitted to Congress on June 9, 1999.
THE PRESIDENT'S LANDS LEGACY INITIATIVE
The President's FY 2000 budget includes a $1 billion Lands Legacy
Initiative to expand federal efforts to save America's natural
treasures. This initiative would provide $105 million to NOAA to
protect America's valuable ocean and coastal resources and to
strengthen state and local efforts to address the problems caused by
urban growth and sprawl.
America's ocean and coastal areas are under siege by a whole suite
of activities, including coastal population growth, development,
maritime commerce, commercial and recreational fishing, and tourism.
The economic and environmental well-being we derive from ocean and
coastal resources and the beauty they provide is being seriously
undermined by the use of these resources in unsustainable ways.
Escalating losses and degradation of wetlands, beaches, fisheries, and
essential habitats, and marine ecosystems must be reversed.
The Lands Legacy Initiative will help ensure that our Nation's most
treasured marine areas are conserved and protected for the benefit of
present and future generations. The proposed $15 million increase for
the Sanctuary program would, for the first time, allow all existing
marine sanctuaries to approach core operating and staffing levels. At
core operating level, each sanctuary would have enough staff,
equipment, boats, facilities, and resources to carry out its basic
mandate to protect sanctuary resources, conduct research, monitoring,
education and interpretive programs, and involve local communities in
nearly every aspect of sanctuary management. The core operating level
varies from site to site and is a function of the Sanctuary's size,
location, complexity of resource issues, and management objectives and
The increased funding would also provide resources to:
(1) Enhance Conservation of Existing Sanctuaries
Design permanent system-wide monitoring programs to
track the status and trends of sanctuary resources and the
overall health of the sanctuary ecosystem;
Expand the coral reef monitoring program;
Initiate submerged cultural resource survey
inventories where appropriate;
Develop system-wide Geographic Information System
Continue the five-year review and revision of
Sanctuary management plans at selected sites; and
Conduct habitat characterization and mapping at each
(2) Plan for the Future of the Sanctuary System
The Lands Legacy funding will position the Sanctuary system to consider
the protection and conservation of additional significant and
threatened areas by:
First allowing the designation and full implementation
of NOAA's thirteenth sanctuary and only site currently in the
designation process, Thunder Bay, Michigan in Lake Huron;
And, once the existing programs are up to par, work
with states and communities to identify potential sites for the
(3) Expand Environmental Education and Outreach Efforts
Of the $15 million increase, $3 million will begin the process of
establishing a network of interpretive facilities, where the public and
environmental decision-makers can learn about sanctuary resources and
marine conservation issues. Currently, none of our sanctuaries have
basic facilities for public education about these special areas.
Adequate facilities, especially interpretive centers, are critical for
the Sanctuary System as they provide the gateway to visiting a
sanctuary. At these interpretive centers, many people will be able to
experience and learn about the diverse wonders teeming beneath the
NOAA plans to work, whenever possible, through partnerships with
existing aquaria, museums, and other facilities. For example, we are
working in partnership with the National Park Service in the Florida
Keys to develop a visitors' center with excess Navy property. In
Boston, we are partnering with the New England Aquarium to take
advantage of the more than one million visitors there. In Hawaii, we
plan to complete an interpretive center in Kihei, Maui. These are just
a few examples of goals we hope to accomplish in 2000.
year of opportunity
The Year of the Ocean in 1998 provided a tremendous opportunity for
NOAA to develop several successful high-profile partnerships which are
essential to the sanctuary program. These partnerships increased public
awareness of the important work NOAA is doing in our sanctuaries. In
March 1998, Dr. Bob Ballard brought the Jason Project to the Monterey
Bay Sanctuary in California. Using student argonauts and teachers from
around the country, the Jason Project broadcast live educational
programs from the Monterey Bay Aquarium, the Sanctuary, and NOAA ships
to over two million school children across the U.S. and throughout the
One year ago, with a $5 million grant from the Richard and Rhoda
Goldman Fund, NOAA and the National Geographic Society launched the
Sustainable Seas Expeditions, a five-year project of deep-water
exploration and public education in NOAA's National Marine Sanctuaries.
Dr. Sylvia Earle, National Geographic Society Explorer-in-Residence, is
leading the expeditions to the 12 marine sanctuaries, using the newly
designed DeepWorker, a one-person submersible capable of exploring to
depths of 2000 feet. New underwater technologies will allow us to bring
the ocean treasures of our sanctuaries to classrooms, the public, and
scientists and managers in ways never before possible.
The Sustainable Seas Expeditions began on April 15, 1999 at the
Gulf of the Farallones NMS off San Francisco. In total, more than 29
research projects and dozens of education projects, including teacher
training and student summits, will be conducted throughout the
sanctuaries in this first year alone. Through live internet broadcasts
and news coverage, millions of Americans will be able to experience
these scientific discoveries and extraordinary educational experiences
In June 1998, Monterey Bay hosted another important Year of the
Ocean activity--the National Ocean Conference. NOAA and the Navy co-
hosted an ocean policy conference that brought President Clinton, the
First Lady, Vice President Gore, Cabinet Secretaries, Members of
Congress, agency heads, conservation groups and industry, scientists
and teachers to discuss the role oceans play in our lives and our
environment. The Sanctuary organized a highly successful community
Oceans Fair to celebrate our ties to the community and our commitment
to conserving the oceans.
Finally, the Audubon Society took the opportunity in its December
1998 issue of Audubon to reflect back on the greatest conservation
accomplishments of the past 100 years. In the article, entitled ``The
Century of Conservation,'' the society lists ``10 of the top gems'' in
the Nation's ``crown jewels of its natural heritage.'' Within this
distinguished list is NOAA's Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary.
SANCTUARY MANAGEMENT PLAN IMPLEMENTATION
Management Plan Implementation
I would now like to turn to some recent initiatives and
accomplishments of the Sanctuary Program. All 12 designated national
marine sanctuaries have management plans that contain site-specific
long-range research and education priorities, regulations, and other
resource management measures to conserve and protect sanctuary
resources. The plans vary in age and complexity as well as the
resources they protect. Each year, the sanctuary managers develop
annual operating plans to prioritize and detail action items that
implement components of their management plans. The number and types of
elements included in an annual operating plan are ultimately determined
by annual program funding.
The Sanctuary Program has made substantial progress over the last
few years, with small appropriation increases and through partnerships,
to find additional resources to help implement components of individual
sanctuary management plans. However, funding has not been sufficient to
allow the program to fully implement every plan.
Sanctuary Management Plan Review
Some of the sanctuary management plans are nearly twenty years old.
The site priorities and specific education, research, and resource
protection goals may be outdated. Last December, NOAA initiated a
process to involve the public in a systematic review of sanctuary
management plans. Stellwagen Bank NMS in Massachusetts became the first
site in the national system to begin a management plan review process
by holding public scoping meetings that will help evaluate the success
in meeting sanctuary goals and objectives and by making revisions, if
necessary, to its management plan and regulations. Channel Islands
(California) has also initiated its five-year review process by holding
scoping meetings earlier this month, and Gray's Reef (Georgia) NMS will
begin its review process later this year.
Expeditions to U.S.S. Monitor Continue to Meet the Goals of the
Monitor Comprehensive Plan Last April, pursuant to Section 4 of Public
Law 104-283 (The National Marine Sanctuaries Preservation Act), NOAA
submitted to Congress a new plan entitled ``Charting a New Course for
the Monitor: A Comprehensive, Long Range Preservation Plan with Options
for Management, Stabilization, Preservation, Recovery, Conservation,
and Exhibition of Materials and Artifacts from the Monitor National
The first phase of the plan was initiated last summer during the
successful 1998 expedition to the USS Monitor off Cape Hatteras, North
Carolina. The primary purpose of this expedition was to complete all
tasks that must precede the stabilization of the hull and recovery of
major hull components, as called for in the Monitor NMS Long Range
Comprehensive Preservation Plan. Major 1998 accomplishments include:
thoroughly mapping and documenting key areas of the Monitor's hull,
mapping and recovering exposed and threatened artifacts, and recovering
of the Monitor's unique iron propeller and an 11-foot section of shaft.
The expedition was the combined effort of the U.S. Navy, NOAA's
National Marine Sanctuaries, the NOAA Diving Center, the National
Undersea Research Center (NURC) / University of North Carolina at
Wilmington, the Cambrian Foundation, and The Mariners' Museum.
We are currently undertaking a Navy expedition to test the
feasibility of stabilizing the Monitor's hull and removing significant
hull components. In August a second expedition involving NOAA, NURC and
Cambrian Foundation divers will document and assess the Navy's mission
results and continue mapping and recovery of artifacts that might be
damaged during the upcoming stabilization and recovery operations. If
adequate funding is obtained, the goals for the next two years include
the stabilization of the Monitor's hull and the recovery of the steam
machinery, guns and turret.
MONITORING OF NATIONAL MARINE SANCTUARY RESOURCES
One of the most critical needs within the Sanctuary Program is
monitoring. NOAA is currently developing a system-wide plan to monitor
its natural resources. This effort will begin in our coral reef sites,
including the Florida Keys, Flower Gardens, Gray's Reef, Hawaiian
Islands, and Fagatele Bay. This initiative is an effort to ensure that
all sites containing coral reefs and coral communities have, at a
minimum, comparable and effective monitoring. The goals are to obtain
information that will provide managers with accurate characterizations
of their sites and to describe current conditions in a manner that
allows detection of changes over time. The full-funding of our Lands
Legacy Initiative is critical to implementing this system-wide
As one component of the coral monitoring program, the Florida Keys
National Marine Sanctuary initiated a five-year zone monitoring program
in 1997 to look at changes in ecosystem function and populations of key
species to gauge the relative effectiveness of the sanctuary's zoning
program. Sanctuary and Florida Department of Environmental Protection
staff recently brought together various scientists involved in
monitoring the zones and determined that, after the first full year of
protection, the Sanctuary's 23 no-take zones are showing signs of
restoring spiny lobster and fish populations.
The breadth of system-wide, regional, and local monitoring programs
will increase with time as specific needs are identified, as management
issues emerge, and as partnership opportunities arise. Initial plans
are to work with other relevant parts of NOAA to design a focused
monitoring program in the sanctuaries. Specifically, a plan is being
developed with NOS' National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science that
will incorporate many NOAA experts in the design and implementation of
the coral reef and system-wide monitoring efforts. In addition,
discussions with mapping experts in NOAA and USGS are likely to lead to
cooperation on habitat mapping, which will provide site
characterizations at larger scales than is possible using ground
These efforts are but a few examples of the initiatives being
undertaken by the National Marine Sanctuary Program to protect and
manage our Nation's ``special places.'' With an eye toward the future,
I would like to discuss the 1999 reauthorization of the NMSA.
THE NATIONAL MARINE SANCTUARIES PRESERVATION ACT OF 1999
With the help of interested constituents and stakeholders, NOAA has
identified areas where the NMSA may be improved. I would like to
highlight some of those areas for you today.
Primary Mandate--Resource Protection
The primary mandate of the NMSA is stated as ``resource
protection''. The Administration's proposal clarifies and improves the
mandate for ecosystem management by including such language as
``maintain natural biodiversity and biological communities, and to
protect, and where appropriate, restore and enhance natural habitats,
populations, and ecological processes''. The Administration's proposal
also stresses the importance of ``precautionary and preventive
Effective System Management
Management of the System would not be fully effective without the
partnerships of others. The Administration's bill adds language to
increase NOAA's ability to use additional resources to manage National
Marine Sanctuaries and to expand the role of non-profit organizations
and the use of the Sanctuary logo by collaborating organizations.
Decreasing Burdens and Clarifying Procedures
The Administration's proposal simplifies the procedures necessary
to change a term of designation for an existing sanctuary. In addition,
it increases flexibility and predictability for issuance of special use
permits and revises natural resource damage assessment provisions to
better reflect current practices.
Strengthening Research and Education Missions
Effective scientific research and education and public outreach are
fundamental to good resource protection. To strengthen NOAA's ability
to understand and manage sanctuary resources, our proposal emphasizes
research and education activities that are appropriate to further our
resource protection mission. To better bring our sanctuaries to the
public, the Administration's bill also provides for the development of
Finally, our legislation authorizes $29 million for the Sanctuary
Program, as outlined in the President's FY2000 budget request. This
increase in funding is imperative to fully and effectively manage the
National Marine Sanctuary System. Reauthorization of the NMSA provides
us with a unique opportunity to strengthen the Nation's only
comprehensive system of marine protected areas. We look forward to
working with the Committee on these important issues.
CORAL REEF PROTECTION
I would like to turn my attention now to S. 725, the Coral Reef
Conservation Act of 1999 and S. 1253, the Coral Reef Protection Act of
1999. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Senators Snowe and
Inouye for their leadership in introducing bills to address the serious
problems surrounding our coral reefs.
Coral reefs are extremely valuable for a variety of reasons,
including the thousands of jobs and billions of dollars they generate
every year from tourism, recreation and fishing. Coral reefs are
probably the most valuable and the most threatened marine ecosystems on
Right now the future of these incredible ``rainforests of the sea''
is very much at risk. Coral reefs in the U.S. and around the world are
quickly being destroyed by a powerful combination of stresses such as
polluted runoff, fishing impacts, ship groundings, marine debris trade
and coral reef species, and new diseases. Most of our fragile coral
reefs are being hit by these impacts simultaneously. In addition, we
are still discovering the impacts of global climate change on coral
reefs. During the past two years we have seen unprecedented levels of
coral bleaching and mortality associated with abnormally high sea
temperatures. Evidence now shows that increasing carbon dioxide levels
could significantly impact reefs worldwide by slowing their growth.
Together, these impacts overwhelm the corals and other reef species.
Our reefs are dying deaths of a thousand cuts.
The Nation's reefs cannot withstand this onslaught of insults. If
we don't act now, we will lose our most precious, valuable and
irreplaceable reefs. The social and economic costs to current and
future generations will be severe. Many of our coral reefs are in
crisis. This is a battle we cannot afford to lose. The Administration
strongly supports comprehensive legislation that increases conservation
and restoration of coral reefs and coral reef ecosystems. Senate bills
725 and 1253 are powerful steps forward in addressing the coral reef
crisis. I applaud the Committee's leadership and commitment to
protecting these incredible reef resources and the communities and
economies that depend on them.
I would like to briefly present some specific information on the
threats to our coral reefs and what can be done to address the coral
crisis. I also have specific comments on the two coral bills.
World wide coral reefs cover less than one percent of the ocean
floor. They are some of the largest and oldest living structures on
earth. Like tropical rainforests they contain some of the highest
biodiversity on the planet. Coral reefs are home to 25% of all marine
fish species and thousands of other species.
The U.S. has significant coral reefs in the southern Atlantic,
Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and the western Pacific. Coral reefs in U.S.
waters cover approximately 17,000 square kilometers and include:
The Florida Keys Coral Reef System, the third largest
barrier reef in the world reaching over 360 kilometers in
length. The Keys coral reefs are home to over 5,500 species and
the world's largest sea grass bed (Florida Bay);
Diverse Caribbean coral reefs in Puerto Rico and the
U.S. Virgin Islands;
Approximately 90% of all U.S. reefs are in the western
Pacific islands of Hawaii, Guam, American Samoa, and the
Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas.
In the U.S., coral reefs have significant economic and social
value. For example, reefs are the foundation of billions of dollars in
economic activity through fishing and tourism:
Over 50% of all federally managed fisheries species
depend on coral reefs for some part of their life;
The annual dockside value of commercial U.S. fisheries
from coral reef ecosystems is over $100 million.
The annual value of reef-dependent recreational
fisheries probably exceeds $100 million per year.
U.S. coral reef ecosystems support billions of dollars
in tourism every year. For example, tourism related to coral
reef ecosystems produces over $2.0 billion per year in the
Florida Keys and Hawaii.
Coral reefs are also valuable sources of new medicines and
biochemicals. It is estimated that marine ecosystems, and coral reefs
in particular, will be the primary source of new biomedical compounds
in the 21st century. Thousands of unique chemicals have already been
described and the exploration has just begun. Powerful new anti-cancer,
anti-coagulant, and anti-inflammation compounds have recently been
developed from coral reef species.
Coral reefs also help prevent shoreline erosion and provide life
saving protection from waves and storms for millions of people in
All of this is currently at risk.
Recent studies suggest that over 60% of the world's coral reefs are
being degraded or destroyed by human activities. Ten percent of the
reefs may already be degraded beyond recovery.
Many of our Nation's reefs have been destroyed or seriously
degraded, especially shallow reefs near coastal areas with large
populations. Under natural conditions coral reefs are quite resilient
and can recover from natural disturbances such as storms and changes in
sea level. The current coral reef crisis is driven by a variety of
human activities that together overwhelm the reef and destroy coral
reef communities. Signs that our reefs are in trouble are numerous. For
Increased pollution and sedimentation in many coastal
areas have damaged reef resources;
The number of coral diseases and the number of
infections has increased dramatically in Florida and Caribbean
reefs in the last five years;
In Florida and Caribbean reefs, two of the most common
shallow water coral species have severely declined throughout
their range with losses of over 95% in some areas.
In the Caribbean, over 20% of the reef-dependent
fisheries are considered over-fished; the status of most others
In some Hawaiian reefs, the most abundant reef fish
species have declined by 40% to 60%.
Every year hundreds of vessels strike U.S. coral reefs
causing significant damage that goes largely unrepaired. In the
Florida Keys alone, approximately 500 small vessel groundings
occur each year.
The number of reef-dependent species considered at
risk, threatened or endangered is increasing.
Last year we observed unprecedented levels of coral
bleaching associated with abnormally high sea surface
And we have no comprehensive program to monitor,
protect or restore the nation's coral reefs.
I wish I could give you a more comprehensive assessment of the
condition of U.S. coral reef resources. Unfortunately the data are not
available. We estimate that less than 10 % of the Nation's coral reefs
have been adequately mapped and characterized to determine their
current condition. Even fewer are adequately monitored to track their
Our state and territorial partners are in desperate need of maps
and other tools, information and resources to implement coral reef
monitoring programs, track the health of their reefs, and take action
to protect them. Providing this kind of assistance is critical to the
future of the Nation's coral reefs because over 35% of all U.S. coral
reefs are within state or territorial waters.
On land, we often take maps for granted. Imagine trying to manage
our National Forests or make land-use decisions as a state resource
manager without adequate maps of where the resources are, what
condition they are in, and what they are being used for. This is our
current situation for coral reefs. Local, state and federal managers
are having to make very difficult decisions without some of the most
We can dramatically change this situation. By helping states and
territories implement effective mapping, assessment, monitoring,
research and restoration, we can build a comprehensive effort to
regularly track and improve the health of U.S. coral reefs. This is one
of two critical steps towards winning the battle for our coral reefs.
The other critical step is action. Many of our corals are being
destroyed faster than they can recover. We must reduce the threats to
our reefs or face the very real possibility that coral reefs as we know
them will disappear within our lifetime.
In many cases we know what the problems are and what we need to do
to solve them. The best possible way to protect and restore coral reefs
is to stop the things that are destroying them. We must act now at
local, state or territory and national levels to reduce the impacts of
coastal water pollution, fishing impacts, marine debris, ship strikes
and other key threats to our reefs.
At the National Ocean Conference, President Clinton signed
Executive Order 13089 on coral reef protection which established the
U.S. Coral Reef Task Force, which is co-chaired by the Department of
Commerce and the Department of Interior, and tasked federal agencies
with developing new comprehensive measures to map, monitor, protect and
restore our precious coral reefs. As part of the U.S. Coral Reef Task
Force, federal agencies, states and territories are developing a
national action plan to prioritize and address threats to our Nation's
While the Task Force Action Plan is still in draft form, the Task
Force has already identified many of the key threats and possible
solutions as called for in the Executive Order. Key actions proposed
for FY 2000 include:
1. Launching a comprehensive effort to map and assess U.S. coral reefs
in the Pacific;
2. Establish a coordinated network of coral reef protected areas,
building on existing sites and activities;
3. Implement a coordinated reef monitoring program;
4. Build emergency response capabilities and restoration efforts;
5. Strengthen local and regional efforts to protect and manage reefs by
supporting the U.S. Islands Coral Reef Initiative.
6. Work on the international front to address global and regional
threats to coral reefs.
NOAA's FY 2000 budget includes $12 million to directly support
these actions and begin fulfilling the Executive Order for conservation
and restoration of coral reefs. It is NOAA's first request specifically
targeting coral reefs. NOAA has no funding to specifically address the
coral crisis at this time. S. 725 and S. 1253 both propose
authorization for important new resources to begin addressing the coral
crisis. Both bills would establish a competitive grant program to make
these resources available to government and non-government entities at
local, state and territory levels where direct actions can be taken to
protect individual reefs. We strongly support these programs and their
focus on, on-the-ground efforts such as monitoring, management,
education and restoration. We would consult with our partners on the
Coral Reef Task Force to effectively direct such resources.
Both bills also include an important tool to leverage federal
dollars by establishing a formal mechanism for working with a qualified
non-profit organization to collect and allocate matching monetary
donations from the private sector. We believe local-level actions and
public-private partnerships are powerful tools for coral reef
conservation and restoration. However, the Administration recommends
that section 5 of S. 725 and section 10 of S. 1253 be amended to
conform to the following principles. Federal funds should not earn
interest, should not be under the control of non-Federal personnel and
should not be held outside of the Treasury.
S. 1253 includes several additional elements to comprehensively
address aspect of the coral crisis. For example, it includes
authorizations to directly support federal efforts to conserve and
restore coral reefs. NOAA has a wide range of responsibilities for
coral reefs and reef resources including management of federal
fisheries and National Marine Sanctuaries with coral resources. NOAA
currently has tools and capabilities that, with these additional
resources, could provide key tools, information and resources to help
government and non-governmental partners protect, restore and
sustainably use coral reefs.
S. 1253 also includes a provision to help prevent the destructive
and dangerous practice of abandoning vessels on U.S. reefs. We are very
concerned about the risks these vessels create to the reefs and the
coastal communities that depend on them. We are also concerned about
the lack of effective mechanisms to prevent and remove such vessels. We
believe this provision in S. 1253 could help prevent vessel abandonment
on coral reefs but want to work with the Committee to review additional
measures which may also be necessary. We look forward to working with
you, our federal and state partners, and the private sector to develop
a broader approach to addressing this problem.
The Administration's FY 2000 budget includes a total of $21 million
in new funding to support the coral reef conservation and restoration
efforts I've discussed here today. This includes $12 million for the
Department of Commerce and $9 million for the Department of the
Interior. Coordinated action by both NOAA and the Department of the
Interior are essential to meet the Nation's coral reef conservation
needs. S. 1253 provides the necessary authorization to carry out these
actions for our coral reefs.
I would like to reiterate the Administration's strong support for
comprehensive legislation that increases conservation and protection of
coral reefs and coral reef ecosystems. I thank Senators Snowe and
Inouye for focusing on this important issue.
In conclusion, I applaud the Committee's leadership and commitment
to protecting our incredible ocean resources, and the communities and
economies that depend on them. We look forward to working with you to
win the battle for the Nation's precious coral reefs and our valuable
National Marine Sanctuaries.
Ms. Yozell. First and foremost, I want to commend the
Committee for its leadership on these issues. Let me turn,
however, to the Sanctuaries Act reauthorization. The
Sanctuaries Act is responsible for a unique network of marine
protected areas dedicated to the conservation of nationally
significant habitats for the enjoyment and use by present and
Marine protected areas play a critical role in ensuring a
healthy environment and a healthy economy. For purposes of
today's hearing I would like to focus my remarks on the
Administration's proposal and give some examples of our
accomplishments and successful partnerships.
The Administration's support for the act was reinforced
recently when the President announced his Lands Legacy
Initiative in his fiscal year 2000 budget request. This
includes an increase of $15 million to strengthen the sanctuary
program in the following three areas:
First, if Congress provides the increase, funds will be
used to enhance the conservation and management of existing
sanctuaries. So what that means is for the first time
sufficient funds would be available for all of the existing
sanctuaries to approach just a core operating and staffing
Second, the increase will be used to support critical
sanctuary education and outreach efforts. Sanctuaries, because
they are located mostly offshore and underwater, are difficult
places for Americans to visit and learn about. None of the
sanctuaries currently have interpretive facilities, so trying
to understand these places is very difficult, and understanding
them is key to their protection.
Third, the Lands Legacy funding will enable NOAA to work
with coastal communities and States and others to identify and
evaluate potential new areas for growth. Presently Thunder Bay,
located in Lake Huron, Michigan, is the only site undergoing
NOAA has been working with our stakeholders to identify
changes we need to make to the program to make it more
effective. Earlier this month we transmitted to Congress the
National Marine Sanctuaries Preservation Act of 1999, and I
will submit that for the record as well.
Senator Snowe: Without objection.
[The information referred to follows:]
National Marine Sanctuaries Preservation Act of 1999
To reauthorize and amend the National Marine Sanctuaries Act and
for other purposes.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the
United States of America in Congress assembled,
This Act may be cited as the ``National Marine Sanctuaries
Preservation Act of 1999.''
The National Marine Sanctuaries Act (16 U.S.C. 1431 et seq.) is
amended to read as follows:
``The National Marine Sanctuaries Act''
16 U.S.C. 1431 et seq.
[NOTE: The Oceans Act of 1992, Pub. L. 102-587, and the National Marine
Sanctuaries Preservation Act of 1996, Pub. L. 104-283, contain
provisions pertaining to national marine sanctuaries.]
Sec. 301. FINDINGS, PURPOSES, AND POLICIES
(a) FINDINGS.--The Congress finds that--
(1) this Nation historically has recognized the importance of
protecting special areas of its public domain, but these
efforts have been directed almost exclusively to land areas
above the high-water mark;
(2) certain areas of the marine environment possess
conservation, recreational, ecological, historical, research,
monitoring, educational, cultural, archaeological or aesthetic
qualities, which give them special national, and in some
instances, international, significance;
(3) while the need to control the effects of particular
activities has led to enactment of resource-specific
legislation, these laws cannot in all cases provide coordinated
and comprehensive ecosystem conservation and management to
special areas of the marine environment;
(4) a Federal program which identifies special areas of the
marine environment will contribute positively to marine
resources conservation, research, and management;
(5) such a Federal program of marine protected areas will
also serve to enhance public awareness, understanding,
appreciation, and sustainable use of the marine environment;
(6) this integrated network of marine protected areas, the
National Marine Sanctuary System, provides added value to the
nation beyond their individual boundaries by applying
innovative management techniques across the entire national
(7) protecting the biodiversity, habitats, and qualities of
such special areas through precautionary and preventive
management actions can contribute to maintaining a natural
assemblage of living resources and the values and ecological
services they provide for future generations.
(b) PURPOSES AND POLICIES.--The purposes and policies of this title
(1) to identify and designate as national marine sanctuaries
areas of the marine environment which are of special national
(2) to provide authority for comprehensive and coordinated
conservation and management of these marine areas, and
activities affecting them, in a manner which complements
existing regulatory authorities;
(3) to maintain natural biodiversity and species assemblages,
and to protect, and where appropriate, restore and enhance,
natural habitats, populations, and ecological processes
(4) to enhance public awareness, understanding and
appreciation of the marine environment and the natural,
historical, cultural, and archaeological resources of national
marine sanctuaries, in order to ensure their conservation and
sustainable use for future generations;
(5) to support, promote, and coordinate appropriate
scientific research on, and long-term monitoring of the
resources of these marine protected areas;
(6) to allow to the extent compatible with the primary
objective of resource protection, all public and private uses
of the resources of these marine areas not prohibited pursuant
to other authorities;
(7) to develop and implement coordinated plans for the
protection and management of these areas with appropriate
Federal agencies, State and local governments, Native American
tribes and organizations, international organizations, and
other public and private interests concerned with the
continuing health and resilience of these marine areas;
(8) to create models of, and incentives for, ways to conserve
and manage these areas, including the application of innovative
(9) and to cooperate with global programs encouraging
conservation of marine resources.
Sec. 302. DEFINITIONS
As used in this title, the term--
(1) ``draft management plan'' means the plan described in
section 304 (a)(2)(A) of this title;
(2) ``Magnuson Act'' means the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery
Conservation and Management Act (16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.);
(3) ``marine environment'' means those areas of coastal and
ocean waters, the Great Lakes and their connecting waters, and
submerged lands over which the United States exercises
jurisdiction, including the exclusive economic zone, consistent
with international law;
(4) ``exclusive economic zone'' means the exclusive economic
zone as defined in the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation
and Management Act;
(5) ``Secretary'' means the Secretary of Commerce;
(6) ``State'' means each of the several States, the District
of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the Commonwealth
of the Northern Mariana Islands, American Samoa, the Virgin
Islands, Guam, and any other commonwealth, territory, or
possession of the United States;
(7) ``sanctuary resource'' means any living or nonliving
resource of a national marine sanctuary that contributes to the
conservation, recreational, ecological, historical, research,
monitoring, educational, cultural, archaeological, or aesthetic
value of the sanctuary;
(8) ``injure'' means to change adversely a sanctuary
resource, including, but not limited to, adversely changing a
chemical, biological, or physical attribute of a sanctuary
resource, or impairing a sanctuary resource service. Injury may
occur directly, indirectly or cumulatively, and may be either
long or short-term. Injure includes, but is not limited to, to
cause the loss of, loss of use, or destroy;
(9) ``service'' means a function performed by a sanctuary
resource for the benefit of another sanctuary resource, other
natural resource or the public;
(10) ``person'' means any individual, corporation,
partnership, or other entity, or any officer, employee, agent,
department, agency, or instrumentality of the Federal
government, of any State or local unit of government, or of any
(11) ``damages'' includes--
(A) compensation for--
(1) the cost of restoring or rehabilitating the
injured sanctuary resource and its services to
baseline condition until the sanctuary resource
has recovered to its baseline condition; and
(2) (i) the cost of replacing or acquiring
resources and services of equivalent value to
the sanctuary resources and services lost; or
(ii) the value of the sanctuary resources and
services from the date the injury occurred
until the sanctuary resource has recovered to
its baseline condition;
(B) the cost of damage assessments under section
(C) the reasonable cost of monitoring appropriate to
the injured, restored, or replaced resources;
(D) the cost of curation and conservation of
archaeological, historical and cultural sanctuary
(E) the cost of enforcement actions undertaken by the
Secretary for losses to sanctuary resources;
(12) ``baseline'' means the condition of sanctuary resources
and services that would have existed had the incident not
(13) ``response costs'' means the costs of actions taken or
authorized by the Secretary to minimize destruction or loss of,
or injury to, sanctuary resources, or to minimize the imminent
risks of such destruction, loss, or injury, including
enforcement activities related to any incident; and
(14) ``cause'' means a reasonably close causal connection
between the conduct and the resulting injury.
Sec. 303. SANCTUARY DESIGNATION STANDARDS
(a) STANDARDS.--The Secretary may designate any discrete area of the
marine environment as a national marine sanctuary and promulgate
regulations implementing the designation if the Secretary--
(1) determines that the designation will fulfill the purposes
and policies of this title; and
(2) finds that--
(A) the area is of special national significance due to
its biodiversity, its ecological importance, its
archaeological, cultural or historical importance, or
its human use values;
(B) existing State and Federal authorities should be
supplemented to ensure coordinated and comprehensive
conservation and management of the area, including
resource protection, scientific research, and public
(C) designation of the area as a national marine
sanctuary will facilitate the objectives in
subparagraph (B); and
(D) the area is of a size and nature that will permit
comprehensive and coordinated conservation and
(b) FACTORS AND CONSULTATIONS REQUIRED IN MAKING DETERMINATIONS AND
(1) Factors.--For purposes of determining if an area of the
marine environment meets the standards set forth in subsection
(a), the Secretary shall consider--
(A) the area's natural resource and ecological
qualities, including its biodiversity, species
assemblages, ecological significance, biogeographic
representation, contribution to local and regional
biological productivity, ecosystem structure and
function, and the maintenance of ecologically or
economically important habitats and species, including
threatened and endangered species;
(B) the area's historical, cultural, archaeological, or
(C) the present and potential human uses of the area
that depend on maintenance of a healthy and functional
(D) the present, and potential activities that may
threaten or otherwise adversely affect the factors
identified in subparagraphs (A), (B), (C);
(E) the area's scientific value as a protected area;
(F) the existing State and Federal regulatory and
management authorities applicable to the area and the
adequacy of those authorities, to fulfill the purposes
and policies of this title;
(G) the manageability of the area, including such
factors as its size, its location, its vulnerability to
significant ecological disturbance, its ability to be
identified as a discrete ecological unit with definable
boundaries, its accessibility, and its suitability for
monitoring and enforcement activities;
(H) the feasibility, where appropriate, of employing
innovative management approaches to protect sanctuary
resources or manage compatible uses.
(I) the value of the site as part of an integrated
network of marine protected areas, both within the
National Marine Sanctuary System, and in the broader
context of marine protected areas throughout the United
States and internationally.
(J) the public benefits to be derived from sanctuary
status, with emphasis on the benefits of long-term
protection of nationally significant resources,
qualities and vital habitats;
(K) the negative impacts produced by management
restrictions on income-generating activities such as
living and nonliving resources development; and
(L) the socioeconomic effects of sanctuary designation.
(2) Consultation.--In making determinations and findings, the
Secretary shall consult with--
(A) the Committee on Resources of the House of
Representatives and the Committee on Commerce, Science,
and Transportation of the Senate;
(B) the Secretaries of State, Defense, Transportation,
and the Interior, the Administrator of the
Environmental Protection Agency, and the heads of other
interested Federal agencies;
(C) the responsible officials or relevant agency heads
of the appropriate State and local government entities,
including coastal zone management agencies, that will
or are likely to be affected by the establishment of
the area as a national marine sanctuary;
(D) the appropriate officials of any Regional Fishery
Management Council established by section 302 of the
Magnuson Act (16 U.S.C. 1852) that may be affected by
the proposed designation; and
(E) other interested persons.
(3) Resource Assessment Report.--In making determinations and
findings, the Secretary shall draft, as part of the
environmental impact statement referred to in section
304(a)(3), a resource assessment report documenting present and
potential uses of the area, including commercial and
recreational fishing, research and education, minerals and
energy development, subsistence uses, and other commercial,
governmental, or recreational uses. The Secretary, in
consultation with the Secretary of the Interior, shall draft a
resource assessment section for the report regarding any
commercial, governmental, or recreational resource uses in the
area under consideration that are subject to the primary
jurisdiction of the Department of the Interior. The Secretary,
in consultation with the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of
Energy, and the Administrator of the Environmental Protection
Agency, shall draft a resource assessment section for the
report including information on any past, present or proposed
future disposal or discharge of materials in the vicinity of
the proposed sanctuary. Public disclosure by the Secretary of
such information shall be consistent with national security
Sec. 304. PROCEDURES FOR DESIGNATION AND IMPLEMENTATION
(a) SANCTUARY PROPOSAL.--
(1) Notice.--In proposing to designate a national marine
sanctuary, the Secretary shall--
(A) issue, in the Federal Register, a notice of the
proposal, proposed regulations that may be necessary
and reasonable to implement the proposal, and a summary
of the draft management plan;
(B) provide notice of the proposal in newspapers of
general circulation or electronic media in the
communities that may be affected by the proposal; and
(C) on the same day the notice required by subparagraph
(A) is issued, the Secretary shall submit to the
Committee on Resources of the House of Representatives
and the Committee on Commerce, Science and
Transportation of the Senate Science and Transportation
of the Senate the following:
(i) the draft environmental impact statement
prepared pursuant to 304(a)(3);
(ii) the draft Management Plan prepared
pursuant to 304(a)(2);
(iii) the basis of the findings made under
section 303(a) with respect to the area;
(iv) an assessment of the considerations under
(v) an estimate of the annual cost of the
proposed designation, including costs of
personnel, equipment and facilities,
enforcement, research, and public education;
(2) Management Plan.--The Secretary shall--
(A) prepare a Management Plan document for the proposed
sanctuary that includes:
(i) the terms of the proposed designation;
(ii) proposed mechanisms to coordinate existing
regulatory and management authorities within
(iii) the proposed goals and objectives;
management responsibilities; resource studies;
and appropriate strategies for managing
sanctuary resources, interpretation and
education, research, monitoring and assessment,
resource protection, restoration, and
enforcement, including surveillance activities
for the area;
(iv) an evaluation of the advantages of
cooperative State and Federal management if all
or part of a proposed marine sanctuary is
within the territorial limits of any State or
is superjacent to the subsoil and seabed within
the seaward boundary of a State, as that
boundary is established under the Submerged
Lands Act (43 U.S.C. 1301 et seq.); and
(v) the proposed regulations referred to in
(B) make copies of the draft Management Plan available
to the public.
(3) Environmental Impact Statement.--The Secretary shall--
(A) prepare a draft environmental impact statement,
pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act of
1969 (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.), on the proposal that
includes the resource assessment report required under
section 303(b)(3), maps depicting the boundaries of the
proposed designated area, and the existing and
potential uses and resources of the area, and
(B) make copies of the draft environmental impact
statement available to the public.
(4) Terms of Designation.--The terms of designation of a
sanctuary shall include: the geographic area proposed to be
included within the sanctuary; the characteristics of the area
that give it conservation, recreational, ecological,
historical, research, monitoring, educational, cultural,
archaeological or aesthetic value; and a list of the types of
activities that may be subject to regulation to protect
sanctuary resources. The terms of designation may be modified
by following the applicable procedures of the National
Environmental Policy Act and the Administrative Procedure Act.
(5) Public Hearing.--No sooner than thirty days after issuing
a notice under this subsection, the Secretary shall hold at
least one public hearing in the coastal area or areas that will
be most affected by the proposed designation of the area as a
national marine sanctuary for the purpose of receiving the
views of interested parties.
(6) Fishing Regulations.--The Secretary shall provide the
appropriate Regional Fishery Management Council with the
opportunity to prepare draft regulations for fishing within the
Exclusive Economic Zone as the Council may deem necessary to
implement the proposed designation. Draft regulations prepared
by the Council, or a Council determination that regulations are
not necessary pursuant to this paragraph, shall be accepted and
issued as proposed regulations by the Secretary unless the
Secretary finds that the Council's action fails to fulfill the
purposes and policies of this title and the goals and
objectives of the proposed designation. In preparing the draft
regulations, a Regional Fishery Management Council shall use as
guidance the national standards of section 301(a) of the
Magnuson Act (16 U.S.C. 1851) to the extent that the standards
are consistent and compatible with the goals and objectives of
this Act and the proposed designation. The Secretary shall
prepare the fishing regulations, if the Council declines to
make a determination with respect to the need for regulations,
makes a determination which is rejected by the Secretary, or
fails to prepare the draft regulations in a timely manner. Any
amendments to the fishing regulations shall be drafted,
approved, and issued in the same manner as the original
regulations. The Secretary shall also cooperate with other
appropriate fishery management authorities with rights or
responsibilities within a proposed sanctuary at the earliest
practicable stage in drafting any sanctuary fishing
(7) Committee Action.--After receiving the documents under
subsection (a)(l)(C), Committee on Resources of the House of
Representatives and the Committee on Commerce, Science, and
Transportation of the Senate may each hold hearings on the
proposed designation and on the matters set forth in the
documents. If within the forty-five day period of continuous
session of Congress beginning on the date of submission of the
documents, either Committee issues a report concerning matters
addressed in the documents, the Secretary shall consider this
report before publishing a notice to designate the national
(b) SANCTUARY DESIGNATION.--
(1) Notice.--In designating a national marine sanctuary, the
Secretary shall publish in the Federal Register notice of the
designation together with final regulations to implement the
designation and any other matters required by law, and submit
such notice to the Congress. The Secretary shall advise the
public of the availability of the final management plan and the
final environmental impact statement with respect to such
sanctuary. The Secretary shall issue a notice of designation
with respect to a proposed national marine sanctuary site not
later than 30 months after the date a notice declaring the site
to be an active candidate for sanctuary designation is
published in the Federal Register under regulations issued
under this Act, or shall publish not later than such date in
the Federal Register findings regarding why such notice has not
been published. No notice of designation may occur until the
expiration of the period for Committee action under subsection
(a)(6). The designation (and any of its terms not disapproved
under this subsection) and regulations shall take effect and
become final after the close of a review period of forty-five
days of continuous session of Congress beginning on the day on
which such notice is published unless in the case of a national
marine sanctuary that is located partially or entirely within
the seaward boundary of any State, the Governor affected
certifies to the Secretary that the designation or any of its
terms is unacceptable, in which case the designation or the
unacceptable term shall not take effect in the area of the
sanctuary lying within the seaward boundary of the State.
(2) Withdrawal of Designation.--If the Secretary considers
that actions taken under paragraph (1) will affect the
designation of a national marine sanctuary in a manner that the
goals and objectives of the sanctuary or the national system
cannot be fulfilled, the Secretary may withdraw the entire
designation. If the Secretary does not withdraw the
designation, only those terms of the designation not certified
under paragraph (1) shall take effect.
(3) Procedures.--In computing the forty-five-day periods of
continuous session of Congress pursuant to subsection (a)(6) of
this section and paragraph (1) of this subsection--
(A) continuity of session is broken only by an
adjournment of Congress sine die; and
(B) the days on which either House of Congress is not
in session because of an adjournment of more than three
days to a day certain are excluded.
(c) ACCESS AND VALID RIGHTS.--
(1) Nothing in this title shall be construed as terminating
or granting to the Secretary the right to terminate any valid
lease, permit, license, or right of subsistence use or of
access that is in existence on the date of designation of any
national marine sanctuary.
(2) The exercise of a lease, permit, license, or right is
subject to regulation by the Secretary consistent with the
purposes for which the sanctuary is designated.
(d) INTERAGENCY COOPERATION.--
(1) Review of Agency Actions.--
(A) In General.--Federal agency actions internal or
external to a national marine sanctuary, including
private activities authorized by licenses, leases, or
permits, that are likely to destroy, cause loss of, or
injure any sanctuary resource are subject to
consultation with the Secretary.
(B) Agency Statements Required.--Subject to any
regulations the Secretary may establish each Federal
agency proposing an action described in subparagraph
(A) shall provide the Secretary with a written
statement describing the action and its potential
effects on sanctuary resources at the earliest
practicable time, but in no case later than 45 days
before the final approval of the action unless such
Federal agency and the Secretary agree to a different
(C) Programmatic Consultation.--The Secretary may
conduct programmatic consultations with a Federal
Agency, as the Secretary deems appropriate.
(2) Secretary's Recommended Alternatives.--If the Secretary
finds that a Federal agency action is likely to destroy, cause
the loss of, or injure a sanctuary resource, the Secretary
shall (within 45 days of receipt of complete information on the
proposed agency action) recommend reasonable and prudent
alternatives, which may include conduct of the action
elsewhere, which can be taken by the Federal agency in
implementing the agency action that will protect sanctuary
(3) Response to Recommendations.--The agency head who
receives the Secretary's recommended alternatives under
paragraph (2) shall promptly consult with the Secretary on the
(4) If the agency head decides not to follow the
alternatives, the agency head shall provide the Secretary with
a written statement explaining the reasons for that decision,
including a description of the actions, if any, the agency head
deems reasonable for the agency to take to prevent the
destruction, loss, or injury of sanctuary resources. In the
event that the federal agency takes action contrary to the
Secretary's recommendation and such action results in actual
destruction of, loss of, or injury to a sanctuary resource,
including but not limited to toxic spills and vessel groundings
caused by the federal agency, the agency head shall promptly
coordinate with the Secretary and take appropriate action to
respond to and mitigate the resulting destruction, loss or
injury and, if possible, restore, replace, or provide the
equivalent of the Sanctuary resource.
(e) REVIEW OF MANAGEMENT PLANS.--Not more than 5 years after the date
of designation of any national marine sanctuary, and thereafter at
intervals not exceeding 5 years, the Secretary shall evaluate the
substantive progress toward implementing the management plan and goals
for the sanctuary, especially the effectiveness of site-specific
management techniques and strategies, and shall revise the management
plan and regulations as necessary to fulfill the purposes and policies
of this title.
Sec. 305. APPLICATION OF REGULATIONS; INTERNATIONAL NEGOTIATIONS AND
(a) REGULATIONS.--This title and the regulations issued under section
304 shall be applied in accordance with generally recognized principles
of international law, and in accordance with treaties, conventions, and
other agreements to which the United States is a party. No regulation
shall apply to or be enforced against a person who is not a citizen,
national, or resident alien of the United States, unless in accordance
(1) generally recognized principles of international law;
(2) an agreement between the United States and the foreign
state of which the person is a citizen; or
(3) an agreement between the United States and the flag state
of a foreign vessel, if the person is a crewmember of the
(b) NEGOTIATIONS.--The Secretary of State, in consultation with the
Secretary, should take appropriate action to enter into negotiations
with other governments to make necessary arrangements for the
protection of any national marine sanctuary and to promote the purposes
for which the sanctuary is established.
(c) INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION.--The Secretary, in consultation with the
Secretary of State and other appropriate Federal agencies, shall
cooperate with other governments and international organizations in the
furtherance of the purposes and policies of this title and consistent
with applicable regional and multilateral arrangements for the
protection and management of special marine areas.
Sec. 306. PROHIBITED ACTIVITIES
It is unlawful to--
(1) destroy, cause the loss of, or injure any sanctuary
resource managed under law or regulations for that sanctuary;
(2) possess, offer for sale, sell, purchase, import, export,
deliver, carry, transport, or ship by any means any sanctuary
resource taken in violation of this section;
(3) interfere with the enforcement of this title by--
(A) refusing to permit any authorized officer to board
a vessel, other than a vessel operated by the
Department of Defense or United States Coast Guard,
subject to such person's control for purposes of
conducting any search or inspection in connection with
the enforcement of this title;
(B) assaulting, resisting, opposing, impeding,
intimidating, or interfering with any authorized
officer in the conduct of any search or inspection
performed under this title;
(C) submitting false information to the Secretary or
any officer authorized by the Secretary in connection
with any search or inspection conducted under this
(D) assaulting, resisting, opposing, impeding,
intimidating, harassing, bribing, or interfering with
any person authorized by the Secretary to implement the
provisions of this title; or
(4) violate any provision of this title or any regulation, or
permit issued pursuant to this title.
Sec. 307. ENFORCEMENT
(a) IN GENERAL.--The Secretary shall conduct such enforcement
activities as are necessary to carry out this title.
(b) POWERS OF AUTHORIZED OFFICERS.--Any person who is authorized to
enforce this title may--
(1) arrest any person, if he has reasonable cause to believe
that such person has committed an act prohibited by section
(2) board, search, inspect, and seize any vessel suspected of
being used to violate this title or any regulation or permit
issued under this title and any equipment, stores, and cargo of
(3) seize wherever found any sanctuary resource taken or
retained in violation of this title or any regulation or permit
issued under this title;
(4) seize any evidence of a violation of this title or of any
regulation or permit issued under this title;
(5) execute any warrant or other process issued by any court
of competent jurisdiction; and
(6) exercise any other lawful authority.
(c) CRIMINAL OFFENSES.--
(1) Offenses.--A person is guilty of an offense if he commits
any act prohibited by section 306(3).
(2) Punishment.--Any offense described in subsection (1) is
punishable by a fine of not more than $100,000, or imprisonment
for not more than 6 months, or both; except that if in the
commission of any such offense the person uses a dangerous
weapon, engages in conduct that causes bodily injury to any
officer authorized to enforce this title or any person
authorized to implement the provisions of this title, or places
any such officer or person in fear of imminent bodily injury,
the offense is punishable by a fine of not more than $200,000,
or imprisonment for not more than 10 years, or both.
(3) Jurisdiction.--There is Federal jurisdiction over any
offense described in this section.
(d) CIVIL PENALTIES.--
(1) Civil penalty.--Any person subject to the jurisdiction of
the United States who violates this title or any regulation or
permit issued under this title shall be liable to the United
States for a civil penalty of not more than $109,000 for each
such violation, to be assessed by the Secretary. Each day of a
continuing violation shall constitute a separate violation.
(2) Notice.--No penalty shall be assessed under this
subsection until after the person charged has been given notice
and an opportunity for a hearing.
(3) In Rem Jurisdiction.--A vessel used in violating this
title or any regulation or permit issued under this title shall
be liable in rem for any civil penalty assessed for such
violation. Such penalty shall constitute a maritime lien on the
vessel and may be recovered in an action in rem in the district
court of the United States having jurisdiction over the vessel.
(4) Review of Civil Penalty.--Any person against whom a civil
penalty is assessed under this subsection may obtain review in
the United States district court for the appropriate district
by filing a complaint in such court not later than 30 days
after the date of such order.
(5) Collection of Penalties.--If any person fails to pay an
assessment of a civil penalty under this section after it has
become a final and unappealable order, or after the appropriate
court has entered final judgment in favor of the Secretary, the
Secretary shall refer the matter to the Attorney General, who
shall recover the amount assessed in any appropriate district
court of the United States. In such action, the validity and
appropriateness of the final order imposing the civil penalty
shall not be subject to review.
(6) Compromise or Other Action by Secretary.--The Secretary
may compromise, modify, or remit, with or without conditions,
any civil penalty which is or may be imposed under this
(e) JUDICIAL CIVIL PENALTIES.--The Secretary may bring an action to
access and collect any civil penalty for which a person is liable under
paragraph (d)(1) in the United States district court for the district
in which the person from whom the penalty is sought resides, in which
such person's principal place of business is located, or where the
incident giving rise to civil penalties under this section occurred.
(1) In General.--Any vessel (including the vessel's
equipment, stores, and cargo) and other items used, and any
sanctuary resource taken or retained, in any manner, in
connection with or as a result of any violation of this title
or of any regulation or permit issued under this title shall be
subject to forfeiture to the United States pursuant to a civil
proceeding under this subsection. The proceeds from forfeiture
actions under this subsection shall constitute a separate
recovery in addition to any amounts recovered as civil
penalties under this section or as civil damages under section
312. None of those proceeds shall be subject to set-off.
(2) Application of the Customs Laws.--The Secretary may
exercise the authority of any United States official granted by
any relevant customs law relating to the seizure, forfeiture,
condemnation, disposition, remission, and mitigation of
property in enforcing this title.
(3) Disposal of Sanctuary Resources.--Any sanctuary resource
seized pursuant to this title may be disposed of pursuant to an
order of the appropriate court or, if perishable, in a manner
prescribed by regulations promulgated by the Secretary. Any
proceeds from the sale of such sanctuary resource shall for all
purposes represent the sanctuary resource so disposed of in any
subsequent legal proceedings.
(4) Presumption.--For the purposes of this section there is a
rebuttable presumption that all sanctuary resources found on
board a vessel that is used or seized in connection with a
violation of this title or of any regulation or permit issued
under this title were taken or retained in violation of this
title or of a regulation or permit issued under this title.
(g) PAYMENT OF STORAGE, CARE, AND OTHER COSTS.--
(A) Notwithstanding any other law, amounts received by
the United States as civil penalties, forfeitures of
property, and costs imposed under paragraph (2) shall
be retained by the Secretary in the manner provided for
in section 107(f)(1) of the Comprehensive Environmental
Response, Compensation and Liability Act of 1980.
(B) Amounts received under this section for forfeitures
and costs imposed under paragraph (2) shall be used to
pay the reasonable and necessary costs incurred by the
Secretary to provide temporary storage, care,
maintenance and disposal of any sanctuary resource or
other property seized in connection with a violation of
this title or any regulation or permit issued under
(C) Amounts received under this section as civil
penalties and any amounts remaining after the operation
of subparagraph (B) shall be used, in order of
(i) manage and improve the national marine
sanctuary with respect to which the violation
occurred that resulted in the penalty or
forfeiture, with priority given to protecting
and enhancing the sanctuary's resource(s);
(ii) pay a reward to any person who furnishes
information leading to an assessment of a civil
penalty, or to a forfeiture of property, for a
violation of this title or any regulation or
permit issued under this title; and
(iii) manage and improve any other national
marine sanctuary, with priority given to
protecting and enhancing the sanctuary's
resource(s), particularly degraded resources.
(2) Liability for Costs.--Any person assessed a civil penalty
for a violation of this title or of any regulation or permit
issued under this title, and any claimant in a forfeiture
action brought for such a violation, shall be liable for the
reasonable costs incurred by the Secretary in storage, care,
and maintenance of any sanctuary resource or other property
seized in connection with the violation.
(h) SUBPOENAS.--In the case of any hearing under this section which is
determined on the record in accordance with the procedures provided for
under section 554 of title 5, United States Code, the Secretary may
issue subpoenas for the attendance and testimony of witnesses and the
production of relevant papers, books, electronic files and documents,
and may administer oaths.
(i) NATIONWIDE SERVICE OF PROCESS.--In any action by the United States
under this chapter, process may be served in any district where the
defendant is found, resides, transacts business, or has appointed an
agent for the service of process.
(j) USE OF RESOURCES OF STATE AND OTHER FEDERAL AGENCIES.--The
Secretary shall, whenever appropriate, use by agreement the personnel,
services, and facilities of State and other Federal departments,
agencies, and instrumentalities on a reimbursable or nonreimbursable
basis, to carry out the Secretary's responsibilities under this
(k) COAST GUARD AUTHORITY NOT LIMITED.--Nothing in this section shall
be considered to limit the authority of the Coast Guard to enforce this
or any other Federal law under section 89 of title 14, United States
(l) INJUNCTIVE RELIEF.--If the Secretary determines that there is an
imminent risk of destruction or loss of or injury to a sanctuary
resource, or that there has been actual destruction or loss of, or
injury to, a sanctuary resource which may give rise to liability under
section 312, the Attorney General, upon request of the Secretary, shall
seek to obtain such relief as may be necessary to abate such risk or
actual destruction, loss, or injury, or to restore or replace the
sanctuary resource, or both. The district courts of the United States
shall have jurisdiction in such a case to order such relief as the
public interest and the equities of the case may require.
(m) AREA OF APPLICATION AND ENFORCEABILITY.--The area of application
and enforceability of this title includes the territorial sea of the
United States, as described in Presidential Proclamation 5928 of
December 27, 1988, which is subject to the sovereignty of the United
States, and the United States exclusive economic zone, consistent with
Sec. 308. REGULATIONS AND SEVERABILITY
(a) The Secretary may issue such regulations, in accordance with 5
U.S.C. 553, as may be necessary to carry out any provision of this Act.
(b) If any provision of this Act or the application thereof to any
person or circumstances is held invalid, the validity of the remainder
of this Act and of the application of such provision to other persons
and circumstances shall not be affected thereby.
Sec. 309. RESEARCH, MONITORING AND EDUCATION PROGRAMS AND INTERPRETIVE
(a) IN GENERAL.--The Secretary shall conduct, support or coordinate
research, monitoring and education programs consistent paragraphs (b)
and (c) of this section. Such efforts shall be consistent with the
purposes and policies of this title and focus primarily on
understanding the natural processes necessary to maintain biodiversity
and viable ecosystems, and on reducing anthropogenic impacts to their
long-term conservation and threats thereof.
(b) RESEARCH AND MONITORING.--The Secretary may support, promote, and
coordinate appropriate research on, and long-term monitoring of, the
resources and human uses of marine sanctuaries, with particular
emphasis on maintaining or restoring diversity of living marine
resources, their habitats, ecological processes, and functions
fundamental to the viability and conservation of these protected areas.
Specific activities may include, but are not limited to: research,
monitoring, exploration, mapping, and environmental and socio-economic
assessment. In addition, the Secretary may undertake restoration
efforts to enhance the rate of recovery of degraded habitats or
resources, and may develop and test appropriate restoration methods.
The results of such efforts will be made accessible to all interested
(c) EDUCATION AND INTERPRETIVE FACILITIES.--
(1) The Secretary may support, promote, and coordinate
efforts to enhance public awareness, understanding and
appreciation of the marine environment, in order to ensure
better understanding of resources and natural processes and
their conservation for future generations. Such efforts will
emphasize the conservation goals of national marine
sanctuaries, and will, to the extent practicable, address
specific threats to sanctuary resources stemming from human
uses that affect the marine environment. Specific activities
may include, but are not limited to, education targeted at the
general public, teachers, students, sanctuary users and
environmental decision makers.
(2) The Secretary may undertake, either solely or in
partnership with other persons, pursuant to an agreement under
section 311 of this title, to develop interpretive facilities
across the nation focused on marine resource protection. Such
interpretive facilities will promote marine conservation by
providing the public and specific user groups with innovative,
focused and effective information about the nature, biological,
ecological and social functions and values of sanctuary
Sec. 310. SPECIAL USE PERMITS
(a) ISSUANCE OF PERMITS.--
(1) The Secretary may issue special use permits which
authorize the conduct of specific activities in a national
marine sanctuary if the Secretary determines such authorization
(A) to establish conditions of access to and use of any
sanctuary resource or
(B) to promote public use and understanding of a
(2) The Secretary shall provide appropriate public notice
when identifying specific activities subject to Special Use
Permits under subparagraph (1).
(b) PERMIT TERMS.--A permit issued under this section--
(1) shall authorize the conduct of an activity only if that
activity is compatible with the purposes for which the
sanctuary is designated and with protection of sanctuary
(2) shall not authorize the conduct of any activity for a
period of more than 5 years unless renewed by the Secretary;
(3) shall require that activities carried out under the
permit be conducted in a manner that does not destroy, cause
the loss of, or injure sanctuary resources; and
(4) shall require the permittee to purchase and maintain
comprehensive general liability insurance, or post an
equivalent bond, against claims arising out of activities
conducted under the permit and to agree to hold the United
States harmless against such claims.
(1) Assessment and Collection.--The Secretary may assess and
collect fees for the conduct of any activity under a permit
issued under this section.
(2) Amount.--The amount of a fee under this subsection shall
be equal to the sum of--
(A) costs incurred, or expected to be incurred, by the
Secretary in issuing the permit;
(B) costs incurred, or expected to be incurred, by the
Secretary as a direct result of the conduct of the
activity for which the permit is issued, including
costs of monitoring the conduct of the activity; and
(C) an amount which represents the fair market value of
the access to and use of the sanctuary resource and a
reasonable return to the United States Government.
(3) Waiver or Reduction of Fees.--
(A) For activities that do not derive profit from the
access to and use of sanctuary resources, the Secretary
may waive or reduce any fees listed in subparagraphs
(B) The Secretary may accept in-kind services for fees
described in subparagraph (2)(C).
(4) Use of Fees.--Amounts collected by the Secretary in the
form of fees under this section may be used by the Secretary--
(A) for issuing and administering permits under this
(B) for expenses of designating and managing national
(d) VIOLATIONS.--Upon violation of a term or condition of a permit
issued under this section, the Secretary may--
(1) suspend or revoke the permit without compensation to the
permittee and without liability to the United States;
(2) assess a civil penalty in accordance with section 307; or
(e) FISHING.--Nothing in this section shall be considered to require a
person to obtain a permit under this section for the conduct of any
fishing activities in a national marine sanctuary.
Sec. 311. COOPERATIVE AGREEMENTS, DONATIONS, AND ACQUISITIONS
(a) COOPERATIVE AGREEMENTS, GRANTS AND OTHER AGREEMENTS.--The Secretary
may enter into cooperative agreements, financial agreements, grants,
contracts, or other agreements with States, local governments, regional
agencies, interstate agencies, foundations, or other persons to carry
out the purposes and policies of this title. Notwithstanding any other
provision of law, the Secretary may apply for, accept, and use grants
from Federal agencies, States, local governments, regional agencies,
interstate agencies, foundation, or other persons, to carry out the
purposes and policies of this title.
(b) USES OF RESOURCES OF STATE AND OTHER FEDERAL AGENCIES.--The
Secretary may, whenever appropriate, use by agreement the personnel,
services, or facilities of State or other Federal departments, agencies
or instrumentalities, on a reimbursable or non-reimbursable basis, to
assist in carrying out the purposes and policies of this title.
(c) AUTHORIZATION TO SOLICIT DONATIONS.--The Secretary may enter into
such agreements with any nonprofit organization authorizing the
organization to solicit private donations to carry out the purposes and
policies of this title.
(d) DONATIONS.--The Secretary may accept donations of funds, property,
and services for use in designating and administering national marine
sanctuaries under this title. Donations accepted under this section
shall be considered as a gift or bequest to or for the use of the
(e) ACQUISITIONS.--The Secretary may acquire by purchase, lease, or
exchange, any land, facilities, or other property necessary and
appropriate to carry out the purposes and policies of this title.
Sec. 312. DESTRUCTION OR LOSS OF, OR INJURY TO, SANCTUARY RESOURCES
(1) Liability to United States.--All persons who destroy,
cause the loss of, or injure any sanctuary resource or creates
an imminent risk of destruction, loss of or injury to any
sanctuary resource are jointly and severally liable to the
United States for an amount equal to the sum of--
(A) the amount of response costs and damages resulting
from the destruction, loss, or injury, including
damages resulting from response actions;
(B) any costs related to seizure, forfeiture, storage
or disposal arising from liability under this section;
(C) interests on that amount calculated in the manner
described under section 1005 of the Oil Pollution Act
(2) Liability In Rem.--Any vessel that destroys, causes the
loss of, or injures any sanctuary resource shall be liable in
rem to the United States for response costs, seizure,
forfeiture, storage and disposal costs, and damages resulting
from such destruction, loss, or injury. The amount of that
liability shall constitute a maritime lien on the vessel and
may be recovered in an action in rem in the district court of
the United States having jurisdiction over the vessel.
(3) Defenses.--A person is not liable under this subsection
if that person establishes that--
(A) the destruction or loss of, or injury to, the
sanctuary resource was caused solely by an act of God,
an act of war, or an act or omission of a third party
(other than an employee or agent of the defendant, or
than one whose act or omission occurs in connection
with a contractual relationship, existing directly or
indirectly with the defendant), and the person acted
with due care; or
(B) the destruction, loss, or injury was a direct
result of activities--specifically authorized under
Federal or State law or permit (excluding
recommendations, instructions, or any other actions
undertaken by the Secretary or any other person
authorized to enforce this title in responding to an
incident creating liability under this section), and
the person was in compliance with such law or permit
and acted with due care.
(4) Limits to Liability.--Nothing in sections 4281-4289 of
the Revised Statutes of the United States or section 3 of the
Act of February 13, 1893, shall limit the liability of any
person or vessel under this title.
(b) RESPONSE ACTIONS AND DAMAGE ASSESSMENT.--
(1) Response Actions.--The Secretary may undertake or
authorize all necessary actions to prevent or minimize the
destruction or loss of, or injury to, sanctuary resources, or
to minimize the imminent risk of such destruction, loss, or
(2) Damage Assessment.--The Secretary shall assess damages to
sanctuary resources in accordance with section 302 (9).
(c) CIVIL ACTIONS FOR RESPONSE COSTS AND DAMAGES.--The Attorney
General, upon request of the Secretary, may commence a civil action in
the United States district court for the appropriate district against
any person or vessel that may be liable under subsection (a) for
response costs, seizure, forfeiture, storage and disposal costs, and
damages. The Secretary, acting as trustee for sanctuary resources for
the United States, shall submit a request for such an action to the
Attorney General whenever a person or vessel may be liable for such
costs or damages. Venue is appropriate in the district in which the
person is found or in which the destruction, loss, or injury to any
sanctuary resource occurred.
(d) USE OF RECOVERED AMOUNTS.--Response costs, seizure, forfeiture,
storage and disposal costs, and damages recovered by the Secretary
under this section shall be retained by the Secretary in the manner
provided for in section 107(f)(1) of the Comprehensive Environmental
Response, Compensation and Liability Act (42 U.S.C. 9607(f)(1)), and
used by the Secretary as follows:
(1) Response Costs And Damage Assessment Costs.--Funds
recovered as reimbursement for past response, seizure,
forfeiture, storage and disposal costs, and damage assessment
costs under section 312(d) shall be used, as the Secretary
deems appropriate, to reimburse the Secretary or other Federal
or State agencies for response costs, seizure, forfeiture,
storage and disposal costs, and the costs of undertaking damage
assessments and to fund future response actions and damage
(2) Restoration, Replacement, and Prevention.--All other
funds recovered under section 312(d) shall be used, in order of
(A) to restore, replace, or acquire the equivalent of
the sanctuary resources which were the subject of the
action, including the costs of monitoring and the cost
of curation and conservation of archaeological,
historical and cultural sanctuary resources;
(B) to prevent threats of injury to or destruction of
sanctuary resources within the national marine
sanctuary that was the subject of the action;
(C) to manage and improve the national marine sanctuary
that was the subject of the action, with priority given
to restoring and protecting comparable resources and
(D) to manage and improve any other national marine
sanctuary, with priority given to restoring or
enhancing injured or degraded habitats or resources.
(3) Federal-State Coordination.--Amounts recovered under this
section with respect to sanctuary resources lying within the
jurisdiction of a State shall be used under paragraphs (2)(A)
and (B) in accordance with the court decree or settlement
agreement and an agreement entered into by the Secretary and
the Governor of that State.
(4) Statute of Limitations.--An action for response costs and
damages under paragraph (c) of this subsection shall be barred
unless such action is commenced within 3 years after the date
of completion of the damage assessment and restoration plan
prepared by the Secretary.
Sec. 313. AUTHORIZATION OF APPROPRIATIONS
There are authorized to be appropriated to the Secretary to carry out
this title the following: (1) $29,000,000 for fiscal year 2000; (2) and
such sums as are needed to fully implement this Act in fiscal years
2001, 2002, 2003, and 2004.
Sec. 314. U.S.S. MONITOR ARTIFACTS AND MATERIALS
(a) CONGRESSIONAL POLICY.--In recognition of the historical
significance of the wreck of the United States ship Monitor to coastal
North Carolina and to the area off the coast of North Carolina known as
the Graveyard of the Atlantic, the Congress directs that a suitable
display of artifacts and materials from the United States ship Monitor
be maintained permanently at an appropriate site in coastal North
Carolina. [P.L. 102-587 authorized a grant for the acquisition of space
in Hatteras Village, NC, for display of artifacts and administration
and operations of the Monitor National Marine Sanctuary.]
(b) DISCLAIMER.--This section shall not affect the following:
(1) Responsibilities Of Secretary.--The responsibilities of
the Secretary to provide for the protection, conservation, and
display of artifacts and materials from the United States ship
(2) Authority Of Secretary.--The authority of the Secretary
to designate the Mariner's Museum, located at Newport News,
Virginia, as the principal museum for coordination of
activities referred to in paragraph (1).
Sec. 315. ADVISORY COUNCILS
(a) ESTABLISHMENT.--The Secretary may establish one or more advisory
councils (in this section referred to as an `Advisory Council') to
provide advice and recommendations to the Secretary regarding the
designation and management of national marine sanctuaries. The Advisory
Councils shall be exempt from the Federal Advisory Committee Act.
(b) MEMBERSHIP.--Members of the Advisory Councils may be appointed from
(1) persons employed by Federal or State agencies with
expertise in management of natural resources;
(2) members of relevant Regional Fishery Management Councils
established under section 302 of the Magnuson Fishery
Conservation and Management; and
(3) representatives of local user groups, conservation and
other public interest organizations, scientific organizations,
educational organizations, or others interested in the
conservation of sanctuary resources.
(c) LIMITS ON MEMBERSHIP.--For sanctuaries designated after the date of
enactment of the National Marine Sanctuaries Program Amendments Act of
1992, the membership of Advisory Councils shall be limited to no more
than 15 members.
(d) STAFFING AND ASSISTANCE.--The Secretary may make available to an
Advisory Council any staff, information, administrative services, or
assistance the Secretary determines are reasonably required to enable
the Advisory Council to carry out its functions.
(e) PUBLIC PARTICIPATION AND PROCEDURAL MATTERS.--The following
guidelines apply with respect to the conduct of business meetings of an
(1) Each meeting shall be open to the public, and interested
persons shall be permitted to present oral or written
statements on items on the agenda;
(2) Emergency meetings may be held at the call of the
chairman or presiding officer;
(3) Timely notice of each meeting, including the time, place,
and agenda of the meeting, shall be published locally and in
the Federal Register, except that in the case of a meeting of
an Advisory Council established to provide assistance regarding
any individual national marine sanctuary the notice is not
required to be published in the Federal Register; and
(4) Minutes of each meeting shall be kept and contain a
summary of the attendees and matters discussed.
Sec. 316. ENHANCING SUPPORT FOR NATIONAL MARINE SANCTUARIES
(a) AUTHORITY.--The Secretary may establish a program consisting of--
(1) the creation, adoption, and publication in the Federal
Register by the Secretary of a symbol for the national marine
sanctuary program, or for individual national marine
(2) the solicitation of persons to be designated as official
sponsors of the national marine sanctuary program or of
individual national marine sanctuaries;
(3) the designation of persons by the Secretary as official
sponsors of the national marine sanctuary program or of
(4) the authorization by the Secretary of the use of any
symbol published under paragraph (1) by official sponsors of
the national marine sanctuary program or of individual national
(5) the creation, marketing, and selling of products to
promote the national marine sanctuary program, and entering
into exclusive or nonexclusive agreements authorizing entities
to create, market or sell on the Secretary's behalf;
(6) the solicitation and collection by the Secretary of
monetary or in-kind contributions from official sponsors for
the manufacture, reproduction, sale, or use of the symbols,
including sale of items bearing the symbols, published under
(7) the retention of any monetary or in-kind contributions
collected under paragraphs (5) and (6) by the Secretary; and
(8) the expenditure and use of any monetary and in-kind
contributions, without appropriation, by the Secretary to
designate and manage national marine sanctuaries.
Monetary and in-kind contributions raised through the sale, marketing,
or use of symbols and products related to an individual national marine
sanctuary shall be used to support that sanctuary.
(b) CONTRACT AUTHORITY.--The Secretary may contract with any person for
the creation of symbols or the solicitation of official sponsors under
(c) COLLABORATIONS.--The Secretary may authorize the use of the symbol
described in paragraph (a) of this section by any person with which the
Secretary is engaged in a collaborative effort to carry out the
purposes and policies of this title.
(d) RESTRICTIONS.--The Secretary may restrict the use of the symbols
published under subsection (a), and the designation of official
sponsors of the national marine sanctuary program or of individual
national marine sanctuaries to ensure compatibility with the goals of
the national marine sanctuary program.
(e) PROPERTY OF UNITED STATES.--Any symbol which is adopted by the
Secretary and published in the Federal Register under subsection (a) is
deemed to be the property of the United States.
(f) AUTHORIZATION FOR NON-PROFIT ORGANIZATION TO SOLICIT SPONSORS.--
(1) The Secretary may enter into an agreement with a non-
profit organization authorizing it to assist in the
administration of the sponsorship program established under
this section. Under an agreement entered into under this
paragraph, the Secretary may authorize the non-profit
organization to solicit persons to be official sponsors of the
national marine sanctuary program or of individual national
marine sanctuaries, upon such terms as the Secretary deems
reasonable and will contribute to the successful administration
of the sanctuary system. The Secretary may also authorize the
non-profit organization to collect the statutory contribution
from the sponsor, and, subject to subparagraph (2), transfer
the contribution to the Secretary.
(2) Under the agreement entered into pursuant to sub-
paragraph (1), the Secretary may authorize the non-profit
organization to retain up to five (5) percent of monetary
contributions it receives from official sponsors pursuant to
such agreement, to offset the administrative costs of the non-
profit in soliciting sponsors.
(g) PROHIBITED ACTIVITIES.--It is unlawful for any person--
(1) designated as an official sponsor to influence or seek to
influence any decision by the Secretary or any other Federal
official related to the designation or management of a national
marine sanctuary, except to the extent that a person who is not
so designated may do so;
(2) to represent himself or herself to be an official sponsor
absent a designation by the Secretary;
(3) to manufacture, reproduce, or use any symbol adopted by
the Secretary absent designation as an official sponsor and
without payment of a monetary or in-kind contribution to the
Secretary, or without prior authorization under paragraph (c)
of this section; or
(4) to violate any regulation promulgated by the Secretary
under this section.''
Ms. Yozell. Let me highlight five important features of the
The bill clarifies the act's primary mandate for ecosystem
protection. This includes protecting natural biodiversity and
biological communities, instead of focusing, as we have in the
past, on a species by species basis.
Second, the bill strengthens NOAA's ability to manage our
sanctuaries as an integrated system, instead of focusing on 12
The legislation also reduces procedural burdens on the
public and increases accountability when resources are damaged.
Fourth, the bill strengthens the system's research and
Finally, the bill authorizes increased funding of $29
million beginning in fiscal year 2000, which will enable us to
fully and effectively manage our sanctuaries.
Let me now turn, if I could, to one of NOAA's successful
partnerships. Earlier this year, with a $5 million grant from
the Richard and Rhoda Goldman Fund, NOAA and the National
Geographic Society launched the Sustainable Seas Expedition.
This 5-year project of deep water exploration and public
education in NOAA's sanctuaries is being led by Dr. Sylvia
Earle, the National Geographic's explorer in residence.
Using newly designed DeepWorker submersibles, we will be
mapping the biodiversity of all the Nation's marine
sanctuaries. I would like to invite members of the Committee to
participate in various expedition kickoffs. I know we are doing
one next week in Boston up in Stellwagen Bank. In September we
will be doing one in Texas on the Gulf at the Flower Gardens;
and in Hawaii next year.
It is an amazing experience. I actually had the opportunity
to go down in one of the submersibles myself and it was really
So, Madam Chair and the Committee, I urge and ask for the
support for the Administration's reauthorization.
Now, if I could, I would like to turn my focus to coral
reef conservation and, more specifically, to S. 725 and S.
1253. Many of our coral reefs are in crisis, as Senator Kerry
and, Madam Chair, you stated earlier. We can no longer delay
action. NOAA strongly supports comprehensive legislation that
increases conservation and restoration of coral reefs and the
coral reef ecosystem.
I want to commend Senators Snowe and Inouye for their
leadership in this area. Both bills are powerful steps forward
in addressing the coral reef crisis, and I pledge my
willingness to work with the committee on these initiatives.
The U.S. has significant coral reefs in the southern
Atlantic, Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and western Pacific, all
of which have significant economic and social value. For
example, reefs are the foundation of billions of dollars in
economic activity through fishing and tourism. Approximately 50
percent of all federally managed fisheries species depend on
coral reefs for some part of their life. Tourism related to
coral reef systems has produced over $2 billion per year in
both the Florida Keys and in Hawaii.
All of this is now at risk. Recent studies suggest that
nearly 60 percent of the world's corals are seriously degraded
by human activities and 10 percent of the reefs have already
been destroyed. I have to tell you, these numbers are kind of
soft. In fact, I wish I could give you a more comprehensive
assessment of the situation in the United States. But
unfortunately the data just does not exist.
We presently have no comprehensive program to monitor,
protect, or restore the Nation's coral reefs. Our State and
territorial partners, where 35 percent of the U.S. coral reefs
reside, are in desperate need of maps and other tools and
information and resources to implement coral reef monitoring
programs, track the health of their reefs, and take actions to
Imagine, if you would, trying to manage our national
forests or make land use decisions at the local level without
maps showing where the resources are or what condition they are
in or what they are being used for. This is our current
situation when it comes to coral reefs. Local, State, and
Federal managers have to make tough decisions every day without
some of the most basic information.
Last year at the National Ocean Conference President
Clinton signed an executive order creating the U.S. Coral Reef
Task Force. It is made up of Federal agencies, States and
territories who are developing a national action plan, and they
prioritized the threats to the reefs. If I could, let me just
highlight a few of those.
They agreed to launch a comprehensive effort to map and
assess the U.S. coral reefs in the Pacific, to establish a
coordinated network of coral reef protected areas, to implement
a coordinated reef monitoring program, to build emergency
response capabilities and strengthen local and regional efforts
by supporting the U.S. Islands Coral Reef Initiative. All of
these are parts of the legislation that you have introduced.
Now, NOAA's part of the Lands Legacy Initiative includes
$12 million to directly support these actions and to begin to
fulfill the executive order.
S. 725 and S. 1253 both propose authorizations for
important new resources to address the coral crisis. Both bills
would establish a competitive program to make resources
available to government and nongovernment entities at local,
State, and territorial levels where direct actions can be
taken. We support the focus of these programs toward on the
ground efforts such as assessment, monitoring, management,
education, and restoration, as well as the matching
requirements and leveraging of Federal dollars. Local level
actions and public-private partnerships are effective means for
coral reef conservation and restoration.
S. 1253 includes some necessary additional elements to
address aspects of the coral crisis. It recognizes the need to
support Federal efforts to conserve and restore coral reefs.
NOAA, for example, has the tools, knowledge, and experience to
assist States and territories in managing their coral reefs.
S. 1253 also includes a provision designed to help prevent
the destructive and dangerous practice of abandoning vessels on
U.S. reefs, and we would like to work with the Committee to
review additional measures which may be necessary in this area.
Finally, S. 1253 authorizes the necessary level of
appropriation to begin to address coral protection.
I would like to reiterate the Administration's strong
support for comprehensive legislation that increases
conservation and protection of coral reefs. S. 725 and S. 1253
are both important steps forward. I look forward to working
with you and the Committee to ensure passage of good
legislation in this area.
So in conclusion, Madam Chair and Committee members, I
applaud the Committee's leadership and the commitment to
protecting our resources and the communities and economies that
depend on them, and I look forward to working with you and all
of these areas.
Senator Snowe. Thank you, Ms. Yozell.
Let me start with what should be the focus in coral reef
conservation efforts. My legislation, as well as Senator
Inouye's legislation, includes local conservation programs and
grants to create an impetus for local participation, perhaps
that will enhance the sustainability of some of these programs.
That is why I included a 50 percent match. I want to discuss
that with you in a moment.
But let us first talk about the most urgent unmet need with
respect to coral reef conservation. Is it still local
participation and local conservation efforts that is the
largest unmet need at this point?
Ms. Yozell. There are so many unmet needs, I do not know if
I would say that is the largest unmet need. Without a doubt, in
order to address these issues we do have to work with the local
communities and at the local level. For example, polluted
runoff is one of the--and other water quality issues, are one
of the No. 1 issues that are affecting the coral reefs, the
health of the reefs. I have got to say that if we do not work
with the local communities to figure out how to address these
issues that is going to be a major problem.
The other issue, though, that we learned recently, and I
was surprised--that was when we had the task force meeting in
Hawaii--is mapping. Less than 10 percent of the U.S. coral
reefs have been mapped to date. Most mapping has been in the
Florida Keys. So in order to develop a regime of management and
monitoring and protection, we really first need to know where
they are and what condition they are in. That is why mapping
plays such a key role there.
We can work with local communities and State-level folks to
do that mapping, but I would say mapping, water quality,
fishing activities, and education and outreach are really the
most important issues, and they can all be done at one level or
another through local, State partnerships.
Senator Snowe. Isn't capacity-building important? Working
on the local level through the grant program to get everybody
involved, will enhance the sustainability of the project
through a matching program. I happen to think that once people
have a stake in a local project that it will encourage long-
It seems to me from all that has been said on this subject
that there needs to be more of this kind of local
Ms. Yozell. Capacity-building without a doubt is very, very
important, and we do need to get buy-in at the local
communities. However, I will note when you look to some of the
island territory areas they may not actually have the funds to
be able to do the match. I recognize in your bill you provide
for in-kind as well, as one of the matches when appropriate.
Capacity-building at the local level is very, very
important. But sometimes they do not have the tools or the
expertise. They are willing to do it, they are willing to
learn. That is where having a national program to be able to
enhance what is going on at the local level is very important.
Senator Snowe. Some of these grants were a one-time event
rather than a sustainable, long term and ongoing project.
Therefore, through a match program you are more likely to
Now, of the grants issued in 1997, I understand there were
about 20 that were under $25,000. Do you know how many of those
projects exist today?
Ms. Yozell. Well, those grants that you are referring to
are through the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and they
are very, very small, on-the-ground grants. I do not know off
the top of my head if they are ongoing. I would assume many of
them are because we have a coral program with the National Fish
and Wildlife Foundation, and I assume that if they prove
successful then these local folks applied for a second round. I
can get that information for you, though, specifically.
[See Administration's prepared responses for the record.]
Senator Snowe. I would be interested. I would like to know
exactly how many are still under way today.
You said in your statement that NOAA has no funding to
specifically address the coral crisis. According to a summary
provided by your staff, NOAA spent $13 million in coral
programs last year.
Ms. Yozell. That is correct.
Senator Snowe. So what did you specifically spend money on
if it was not spent on the coral crisis?
Ms. Yozell. Well, I do not know if I said ``no,'' then I
erred in the no. But let me say it is merely a drop in the
bucket. The $13 million that NOAA has been spending is
primarily on research. For example, we have the national
undersea research program which we will be hearing more about
from the Caribbean Center today, and the aquarius undersea
research program in Florida Keys, and in Hawaii the undersea
research program there.
The sea grant program also spends some money on research.
Then with the fishery management councils, they have been
providing or trying to get up to speed to develop fisheries
management plans affecting corals. They are way behind in their
efforts, and in fact WestPac, which is the Western Pacific
Fishery Management Council, has come to the Senate requesting
more money just to address corals.
So we have got a little bit going on here, it is really
just the beginning and just scratching the surface of the
Senator Snowe. Well, you mentioned on page 15 of your
prepared statement that NOAA has no funding to specifically
address the coral crisis at this time. So the money that is
being funded in this table that says ``Summary of funding for
coral reef activities'' is not addressing the crisis, or is it
providing minimal funding in each of these programs?
Ms. Yozell. I would say I obviously must have erred in
``addressing the crisis.'' We are scratching the surface of the
crisis. We are definitely losing the battle with $13 million
funding this. We are not achieving any kind of major success in
preventing the destruction of our corals.
Senator Snowe. In Senator Inouye's bill he includes a
provision on revoking the Jones Act eligibility if a ship that
is abandoned on a coral reef. Do owners of ships that are
abandoned on coral reefs pay for any damages? Do we have
instances where they do not pay for the damages and still
maintain their eligibility to participate in the Jones Act
Ms. Yozell. Well, I think the problem, the specific issue
that we are focusing on there, is the abandoned vessels in
American Samoa. All of those vessel owners have gone into
bankruptcy and were unable to pay for any kind of corrective
measures to restore the reefs.
We do have a damage assessment program where when resources
are harmed, for example corals are harmed in the sanctuaries,
we are able to go after them. But like all damage assessment,
if they are bankrupt and cannot pay, they cannot pay.
I think the effort--and I would have to check with Senator
Inouye's folks--that they are trying to do there is if a
shipowner goes into chapter 11 and then tries to startup
elsewhere, they should not be able to do so without first
owning up to their responsibility of damaging the resource.
Senator Snowe. Yes, and do we have any current examples?
Ms. Yozell. I do not, no. But again, I would be happy to
get back to you and double check on that.
[See Administration's prepared responses for the record.]
Senator Snowe. So it is possible they could maintain or
Ms. Yozell. I think it is possible that they can.
Senator Snowe. They could become eligible again to compete
in the for Jones Act trade even if they filed bankruptcy and
then they started again?
Ms. Yozell. I believe that is what they are trying to
Senator Snowe. But you do not know of any instances in
which that has happened?
Ms. Yozell. I personally do not know of any instances. But
I can check that out easily. It must be an issue.
Senator Snowe. I would appreciate that. I would like to
have that information before the Committee.
Ms. Yozell. Sure.
Senator Snowe. Thank you.
Senator Kerry. Just a couple of quick questions.
Ten years ago the Bush Administration had an expert panel
that said the sanctuary program needed a minimum of $30 million
in annual funding. The program has been funded at only half
that amount, and that was before we added six new sites to the
Therefore, you now say or the Department says that one-
third of the twelve sanctuaries have reached a ``baseline
operational level.'' What do you consider a baseline
operational level to be?
Ms. Yozell. When we talk about a core level we're merely
talking about a manager, an education outreach coordinator, a
scientist, and some support staff. We also look to perhaps have
a multi-purpose vessel at each sanctuary where appropriate. We
also look to have them be part of--a sanctuary advisory
committee. Only 7 of the 12 sanctuaries currently have local
Then third, we are trying to get to a point where we can
develop a management program where every 5 years we can have a
strong management plan, review it, and implement changes to it.
Some of our sanctuaries have as little as a couple hundred
thousand dollars as their annual operating level, hardly enough
to manage the vast resources that they are trying to protect.
Senator Kerry. Is there a showing of any detriment to those
sanctuaries as a consequence of that?
Ms. Yozell. Absolutely. We have issues going on throughout
the sanctuaries that, one, we are either not aware of because
we cannot monitor it or we do not even have a baseline
assessment of the biodiversity that exists in most of our
We have these things called site assessments and we have
only finished 1 in all 12 national marine sanctuaries and that
was at the USS Monitor, which it is pretty easy to go down and
do the site assessment for a ship. But on the actual resources,
the vast resource of the Hawaii Humpback Whale Sanctuary,
Stellwagen Bank, and others, we do not have a baseline
understanding of what exists there.
Senator Kerry. Will the current request of $29 million
bring each of the sites up to the baseline as you have defined
Ms. Yozell. Yes, it certainly will be a good start. I mean,
it is not going to happen in 1 year, but we believe that level
of funding over several years is going to bring us to the level
we need to get to, and then move on to make further
Senator Kerry. So we only have one site that currently has
any kind of baseline assessment?
Ms. Yozell. Full baseline assessment, and it is the USS
Monitor, which is a ship.
Senator Kerry. Can you share with the Committee any of the
specific shortfalls with respect to the mission as defined at
any of the other sites? You can submit it to the Committee.
Ms. Yozell. Let me submit a list for the record.
Senator Kerry. I would like to see an assessment of that. I
would like to see exactly what your assessment is of the
deficiencies/shortfall at those sites due to lack of funding.
Ms. Yozell. Let me give you an example. I am so overwhelmed
with how many there are, it is hard to even begin to focus. But
looking at Florida Keys for example, there we have been asked
to do a comprehensive water quality management and monitoring
program. We know that a place like the Keys, where the land is
made of porous coral, and water quality is so important to the
adjacent coral reefs, pollution runs through the land. In the
past week there have been examples of beaches being closed
around the Key West area due to poor water quality.
That sort of thing happens frequently down there and we are
not able to get a handle on it because we do not have the funds
to address it.
Senator Kerry. Well, I think it would be really good to
have that assessment in terms of any kind of advocacy or
struggle for funding, rather than being abstract. I think that
creates a little more specificity.
With respect to the coral reefs in the last years, you have
estimated expenditures over 3 years, 1997, 1998, 1999, of $10
million, $12.1 million, and $13 million. How does that compare
to the recommendation of the Coral Reef Task Force?
Ms. Yozell. The current spending or what we have requested?
Senator Kerry. What you have spent.
Ms. Yozell. Again, it really is a drop in the bucket, as I
said earlier to Senator Snowe. We have huge requirements that
the Task Force is trying to undertake. We are putting together
budgets that will be available for 2001, but in just our
preliminary Task Force meeting NOAA was able to come up with
its $12 million request added to the $13 million that we
We fine-tuned the budget more after our first Task Force
meeting when we recognized that we have to assess what the
status of the coral reefs are, develop management programs, and
then monitor them as well as map them. There are so many
stressors focusing on our coral reefs, as I said, water
quality, fishing, marine debris, and in order to handle all
these issues $13 million is just not enough to do it.
Senator Kerry. If adequately funded, how long would it take
to map all the coral reefs?
Ms. Yozell. If adequately funded, it would take about 5 to
7 years to fulfil our efforts of mapping.
Senator Kerry. That is at an annual funding of what level?
Ms. Yozell. That would be at the annual funding level that
NOAA is requesting, $12 million. And not all of that money
would be used for that, but that would probably be a few
million dollars a year. Without the money, Senator, I am not
sure we will ever get it done. If we go at the rate we are
going, it could be 20 or 30 years from now.
Senator Kerry. Thank you very much.
Senator Snowe. Senator Breaux.
Senator Breaux. Thank you, Madam Chairman. I thank the
I think we ought to have a field hearing in an underwater
submersible on top of a coral reef.
Senator Snowe. That would be interesting.
Ms. Yozell. I would love to take you all down.
Senator Breaux. We are going to do it. I was looking at
Yachting Magazine, I guess, in June. Actually, what attracted
my attention to the magazine was the 41-foot Sea Ray on the
cover, but I did notice that in the magazine was an article
``Who's Killing the Coral Reefs in Florida?,'' which you have
There seems to be some sort of argument, which I was
surprised to learn, that part of the problem is the increase in
the salinity in the area around the coral reefs. Others have
said, no, it is the increase of fresh water and all the
nitrogen and phosphorus; it destroys the oxygen and causes the
gradual destruction of the reefs.
Is there any doubt what is causing it with regard to
nitrogen and phosphorus?
Ms. Yozell. Senator, you bring this up at a rather timely
point. Later this week, in fact tomorrow I guess, we will be
announcing a major restudy of the South Florida Everglades
Restoration in that NOAA has a key role to monitor the coral
reefs in the Florida Keys. As we are re-plumbing the whole
Everglades and the whole water quality as well as salinity and
non-salinity and other changes, we are going to be monitoring
very closely to see how that affects the reefs.
The reason we are doing that is because that is the No. 1
issue there. Water quality is probably the most important issue
when it comes to the Florida Keys.
I would like to further note on your initial comment, we
would love to invite you to come down and dive on the Keys.
Senator Breaux. I accept. [Laughter.]
Ms. Yozell. We would love you to come down and give you sub
training, which we will be doing in August.
Senator Breaux. I accept.
Ms. Yozell. There you go. We will work with your staff to
make sure that we get to do that.
Senator Breaux. Well, we have talked with the Chairwoman of
the Subcommittee, my good friend from Maine, about the problem
we have in the Gulf of Mexico with regard to the dead zone that
occurs every summer: we have 7,000 square miles utterly without
oxygen. We also have the Flower Garden Banks which I remember
helping authorize back in 1972 as a marine sanctuary.
I think the consensus of scientists there is that it is the
nitrogen and phosphorus that are being dumped into the Gulf of
Mexico that allows the algae to grow very rapidly. When the
algae dies off, it destroys the oxygen content, thereby
destroying the coral reefs. Is there any doubt that that is not
the same problem that is occurring in the Florida Everglades?
Ms. Yozell. I believe it is. Let me turn to our coral
scientist, Mike Crosby.
Dr. Crosby. Senator, I think you are hitting the nail on
the head in terms of one of the perturbations. The nitrogen is
certainly, and phosphorus, certainly acting the way that you
Senator Breaux. So it is really the influence of fresh
water into this ecosystem that creates part of the problem?
Dr. Crosby. It is the combination of all of these factors.
Senator Breaux. Rank in general terms the causes of the
deterioration of the coral reefs. Obviously anchoring, someone
anchors on top of a coral reef and rips it up, is a problem. Is
the anchoring and everything else part of it a potential
problem? Is people breaking off the coral reefs to sell in
shops a problem? What about the algae and the lack of oxygen?
Give us a ranking of what seems to be the current major
reason for the problems that the coral reefs are having?
Dr. Crosby. The significance of the perturbations is
dependent upon the site. In the Florida Keys water quality is
obviously a major, major factor. In some of the more isolated
reefs in the Pacific, for instance, water quality would not be,
but perhaps nets from various fishing vessels that have washed
aground on the atolls may be a problem, coral bleaching is
definitely a problem.
Senator Breaux. Coral bleaching is caused by what?
Dr. Crosby. Well, actually high temperature is one of the
drivers. There's a good strong correlation there. The actual
physiological mechanism for the expulsion of the symbionic
algae which is causing the bleaching, the overhead that Senator
Snowe had up there, the exact physiological mechanism is being
studied right now. There is some new evidence that may indicate
that it is actually a vibriobacteria that is causing the
disruption of the physiological processes of the phytoplankton
itself, causing them to be expelled or to die.
But depending on what reef you are at, there are different
stressors, and it is not any one stressor that you can point
your finger to.
Senator Breaux. How much damage is caused by human
involvement--actual contact with the reefs and breaking them
Dr. Crosby. Significant in areas where there is a large
degree of tourism. Some of the tourist areas in Hawaii get a
lot of damage from people because there is not an adequate
amount of education and outreach for maybe tourists coming into
an area. They may step or walk or throw their anchors
Florida Keys is doing a very good job with respect to
education and outreach, but again that is only 325 square
kilometers of a total of about 17,000 square kilometers of
coral reefs in the U.S.
Senator Breaux. How many of the coral reefs are not in
marine sanctuaries within the economic zone of the U.S.?
Dr. Crosby. The overwhelming majority.
Senator Breaux. Are in?
Dr. Crosby. Are not in.
Senator Breaux. Are not in the sanctuaries?
Dr. Crosby. Yes, sir.
Ms. Yozell. 90 percent of the corals are in the Pacific and
just a small amount of that is actually in the humpback whale
Senator Breaux. I was talking about in areas where we have
the authority to put them in a sanctuary, within the 200 mile
economic zone of the United States.
Ms. Yozell. That is the 90 percent.
Senator Breaux. Really?
Ms. Yozell. Yes.
Senator Breaux. So 90 percent are not in marine
Dr. Crosby. I would say over 90 percent are not in
sanctuaries, yes, sir.
Senator Breaux. Now, those that are in marine sanctuaries,
are the tools available for us to adequately protect them
within the sanctuary? I would think they are.
Ms. Yozell. We have adequate tools within the sanctuary. We
have broken some of the most incredible ground in the Florida
Keys National Marine Sanctuary. I think you will hear in a few
minutes from Mike Collins and he will talk about where we were
with the Florida Keys Sanctuary as a first. It was the first
sanctuary ever to have zoning. It was the first sanctuary ever
to have a water quality program. It was the first sanctuary
ever to have a sanctuary advisory committee.
All of these things were sort of problematic as we broke
major new ground in trying to manage such a vast resource.
Today, however, we have learned so much from this process.
Another place I would love to get you to dive is the
Tortugas 2000--I mean Tortugas, and we are creating a program
called Tortugas 2000, where we are going with the national
park, the State, our dive community, our fishing community, and
we are all working in concert at the local level to be able to
create a large, 180 square mile ecological reserve. That is a
Senator Breaux. That is in the 200 mile exclusive economic
Ms. Yozell. Yes, it is. And it is gaining incredible
support throughout the community and it is getting that kind of
support because we have been working with the stakeholders, and
it has just been a real good example of what we learned from
our initial efforts in the Florida Keys as we developed
Senator Breaux. I do not want to belabor this too long,
Madam Chair, but let me ask if the coral is out in the
Tortugas, I guess the fresh water intrusion--with nitrogen and
plex-plains is not a problem in that area is it?
Dr. Crosby. Actually, some of the current information,
``current'' as in water current information, indicates that
actually some of the waters that are coming out of the
Mississippi and are creating the dead zone up around Louisiana
are actually coming down and impacting the Florida Keys as
well. You will also be getting impacts, potential impacts,
coming out of the Florida Bay area.
Senator Breaux. Are the destruction of the corals in the
Tortugas and further out toward the east in the Caribbean
similar to the type of problems and destruction that you are
having in the Keys, or is it different?
Dr. Crosby. Similar in many ways, because of the human--the
high density of human beings--in the Caribbean in association
with coral reefs. There are a lot of similarities, yes.
Senator Breaux. Well, I really want to work with you. The
good news is you have got Democrats and Republicans both
offering a bill on corals. I mean, what are we headed for? This
is unbelievable. We are arguing about who is going to put the
most money in it, which is really a wonderful argument to be
having. So at least we are moving in the same direction, and I
would hope we could all come together.
I have just got one final question. It is sort of a
technical thing, but I have a memory of this. The Flower Garden
Banks background information--I do not know if this is from
NOAA or from who--says: ``Flower Garden Banks is one of the 12
national marine sanctuaries designated under the Marine
Protection, Research, and Sanctuaries Act of 1972.'' Then it
says further down: ``Flower Gardens Banks was designated in
I remember designating it in 1972. It was not 1992. It has
been designated as part of the national marine sanctuaries
since 1972, has it not? Was it something different in 1992 that
was done that I do not remember? I mean, I authored the
legislation back in 1972. I remember that.
Ms. Yozell. I will tell you why it took so long.
Senator Breaux. It is sort of a technical question. It is
not really important.
Ms. Yozell. Apparently we started it and then there was a
Senator Breaux. A 20-year hiatus?
Ms. Yozell. It gained a lot of support to become a
sanctuary, so we started again and with that support we made it
Senator Breaux. Good things take a long time.
Ms. Yozell. It is tremendous--that is my next goal, to go
there. From what I have heard, it is a tremendous sea mount
that is just so unique.
Senator Breaux. It is the northern most shallow water coral
reef in North America.
Ms. Yozell. Yes. Not to belabor the point, but that adds to
the reason why we so badly want to create visitor exhibitry
centers or whatever. I believe it is something like 60 miles
off the coast. It is not the sort of thing that, like a
national park where people can drive in and participate.
Senator Breaux. In fact it is about 110 miles, so it is
even further than that.
Ms. Yozell. But that even furthers the reason that we
really need to get our communities and visitors to understand
what is out there in the deep, so that they can protect and
learn to appreciate the resources.
Senator Breaux. Thank you.
Thank you, Madam Chairman.
Senator Snowe. Thank you, Senator Breaux.
Has your agency identified national priorities with respect
to coral reef degradation? You mentioned mapping, and I assume
that that has been an existing problem. Is it a result of a
lack of funding? Has the agency gone through a process of
identifying what is absolutely essential and made a forceful
case to Congress over the years with respect to this issue?
Ms. Yozell. I would say no, we probably have not made a
forceful case over the years. That is why--first you had the
islands report which identified it at the local island level of
what really needed to be done. At the National Oceans
Conference last year, that was why President Clinton created
this task force, the Coral Reef Task Force, to really bring all
In doing so, I think it really helped NOAA get its house in
order with regard to what its priorities are for corals. Again,
water quality, fishing, mapping, those are the sort of issues
that we really need to address.
Senator Snowe. Will the Coral Reef Task Force come up with
a plan and identify those priorities?
Ms. Yozell. Yes.
Senator Snowe. They will?
Ms. Yozell. Yes. We have already begun to do so and it is
due out in October.
Senator Snowe. This morning there was a report on global
warming that mentioned the fact that in the next 100 years the
temperature could increase by 7 degrees. What would that mean
to the problem at hand with respect to coral reefs? Are there
any efforts under way or planned to prevent further degradation
of coral reefs? Obviously, some efforts have been developed,
but have we taken a major step toward preventing further
degradation of coral reefs if global warming does increase over
the next 100 years?
Ms. Yozell. I am going to start this and then I am going to
turn it over to Michael for the more accurate response. But my
understanding is with coral bleaching that often the reefs can
come back after a warming spell. However, when you add a lot of
stresses to the corals they are weakened, and something like a
coral bleaching event due to, if it is climate change, global
warming, whatever, make it far more difficult for it to be able
Senator Snowe. Can you reverse coral bleaching?
Dr. Crosby. It can be reversed if it does not occur over an
extended period of time and the water temperatures go back down
within the normal range. There are many, many cases of the
coral developing--renewing the relationship with the symbionic
algae. But if it goes for an extended period of time, there are
also many cases that show that the coral does die.
Ms. Yozell. But I also believe--correct me, Michael--if it
is in a weakened state due to other diseases, pollution, too
much algae or whatever, it has less of an opportunity to be
able to come back from a coral bleaching event than maybe
otherwise if it were totally a healthy reef.
So when you say are we doing anything for the future, I
think we are trying to develop ways to make sure that the
existing corals are as healthy as possible so they can survive
these kind of events.
Senator Snowe. What percentage of the reefs are in the
northwest Hawaiian Islands?
Ms. Yozell. Of all----
Dr. Crosby. The northwest Hawaiian Islands I think have a
little over 60 percent of all.
Senator Snowe. Do they suffer the same impact?
Dr. Crosby. With respect to global warming?
Senator Snowe. Yes.
Dr. Crosby. With respect to temperature increases, yes,
ma'am. They probably are a little bit less impacted than say
the Florida Keys with respect to tourism.
Senator Snowe. Because they are not populated?
Dr. Crosby. They are a little less accessible, although
there is a growing ecotourism activity in the Hawaiian Islands.
People want to go where the coral reefs are most beautiful. In
fact, like moths being drawn to a flame, sometimes the
relationship ends up not being mutually beneficial.
Senator Snowe. On the National Marine Sanctuaries Act, you
mentioned earlier the implementation of the management plans.
So not 1 of the 12 sanctuary programs' management plan has been
implemented, is that correct?
Ms. Yozell. No, no, no, no. I was talking about the site
Senator Snowe. OK.
Ms. Yozell. With regard to the management plans, all of the
sanctuaries have a management plan.
Senator Snowe. They have a management plan, but they have
not been implemented and updated?
Ms. Yozell. No, they are being----
Senator Snowe. They have?
Ms. Yozell. Oh, updated, now that is another story. Every 5
years we are supposed to update the management plans, and we
have just begun to do that. We started with Stellwagen Bank a
few months ago with scoping and what-not.
Senator Snowe. All 12 management plans have been fully
Ms. Yozell. They are fully written. We are not able to
Senator Snowe. Well, that is what I am talking about, the
Ms. Yozell. No, we are not able to implement them. That is
the whole core staffing level issue that I was discussing
Senator Snowe. Right. But they have been in place for how
long, for 5 years or 25 years?
Ms. Yozell. Well, no. They vary from site to site because
they have all come on line at different times.
Senator Snowe. Yes, because of different times. But not one
of them has been fully implemented over the course of time?
Ms. Yozell. No, no, no. The site characterization at
Senator Snowe. I know that every site has a management
Ms. Yozell. Yes.
Senator Snowe. That's not the question I am asking. Have
they or have they not fully implemented the management plans?
Ms. Yozell. I believe they have.
I will turn it over to----
Mr. Lindelof. Madam Chairwoman, they are living documents
that are revised as we go along, but periodically every 5
years. None of the sites are currently fully implemented. We
are in the process of doing that, and that is where the Lands
Legacy increase becomes significant.
Senator Snowe: So not one of the plans has been fully
implemented. I have been told that they have not been updated
Mr. Lindelof. That would be correct.
Senator Snowe. They have not been reviewed and updated.
Mr. Lindelof. That is correct. When a sanctuary is
designated there is a management plan as part of its
designation. That management plan lays out an education
program, research program, an enforcement program, and how that
sanctuary is going to be managed. It contains a list of
What we have been able to do in most sites is partially
implement, with the current funding, the sanctuary activities.
None of the sanctuaries have completely had a revision of their
management plan, nor are they fully implemented.
Senator Snowe. So what would it take to do both?
Ms. Yozell. That is the whole point in our reauthorization.
Why don't Ed stay here just in case. This is Ed Lindelof,
who is currently the Acting Manager of the Stellwagen Bank
Sanctuary, but works here in Washington.
Senator Snowe. The $29 million would be for reviewing and
Ms. Yozell. Both.
Senator Snowe. Both. So the $29 million would do both?
Ms. Yozell. The $29 million--it is not going to happen in 1
year, but it is the starting point so that we can get all of
our sanctuaries to the core operating level where we can
implement management strategies, do site evaluations, and then,
further, start to begin this 5-year review period, which is
quite extensive. We go out to the communities, as we just did
in Massachusetts in Stellwagen Bank, and have public hearings
and work with our sanctuary advisory councils to determine what
are the important management regimes we need to put in place,
and then put them in place.
Senator Snowe. None of the management plans have been
Ms. Yozell. Correct, none of them have been updated.
Stellwagen Bank was the first to begin to be updated.
Senator Snowe. So what does that process take?
Ms. Yozell. It takes, as I just said, it is starting with
Senator Snowe. But how long?
Ms. Yozell. Eighteen to 24 months.
Senator Snowe. Eighteen to 24 months. And the reason why
they have not been fully implemented, is due to the lack of
Ms. Yozell. That is correct, and updated.
Senator Snowe. For lack of funds?
Ms. Yozell. Both, because you cannot really go out and
update if you do not have staff or scientists or managers or
anyone to go out and do this kind of work.
Senator Snowe. Obviously, it is required under the law. Why
hasn't NOAA done it over the years?
Ms. Yozell. NOAA has not had the funds to do it over the
Senator Snowe. Have they made a case for that?
Ms. Yozell. We have certainly tried.
Senator Snowe. I cannot imagine after all these years that
no one was hearing or listening in Congress.
Ms. Yozell. We find that hard to believe as well.
Senator Snowe. I know. It is a shock to hear you say that.
Ms. Yozell. I have to say, I think this is truly the year
of the national marine sanctuary, and that is why we are very
pleased with working with the committee to ensure that we
Senator Snowe. So NOAA has established priorities for the
implementation of plans?
Ms. Yozell. Yes.
Senator Snowe. Updating?
Ms. Yozell. Yes.
Senator Snowe. How about expansion of the program? Does
that take away from doing either of those tasks?
Ms. Yozell. At the moment NOAA has no plans to expand its
existing sanctuary program.
Senator Snowe. Other than the most recent one in Michigan.
Ms. Yozell. Right, exactly.
Now, I will note the House bill, for example, tries to put
a cap on any kind of expansion and that is our plan at the
moment. But if the State of say Maine or Alaska or Louisiana
wanted to paint a really good case why we ought to have a
sanctuary off its coast, we would not want to be able to
prohibit that if it was a worthy cause.
Senator Snowe. How about enforcement? I know there has been
an issue concerning lack of enforcement. In the
administration's bill and the House bill new criminal penalties
are proposed. How will that work if we are unable to enforce
the current law?
Ms. Yozell. Enforcement is also part of the getting our
core staffing levels up to speed.
Now, with regard to criminal, I want to make that clear.
The criminal part of that is just for individuals who harass
the enforcement officials. It is not to create penalties, and I
want to make sure that that is understood.
Senator Snowe. Are the current civil penalties enforced?
Ms. Yozell. It is very spotty. We do not have enough
enforcement capability. In the Florida Keys, where we probably
have our greatest enforcement, we have a dual enforcement with
the State. It is very effective. We do not do that many
penalties unless it is a major case. Many of our officers are
out there more to educate and provide warnings and really
educate the population.
But if it is an egregious event, they are there to do the
enforcement. But it is under, under, under capacity with regard
to the other sanctuaries.
Senator Snowe. Also, has your agency noticed greater
pressure outside the sanctuary with respect to fishing and
Ms. Yozell. Well, fishing is permissible within the
sanctuaries and many of the activities. So except for the few
no-take zones which we have in Florida, that has really not
been the case. In fact, I think as Mike Collins can tell you
later, in the Florida Keys the fishermen have really embraced a
lot of the areas of no-take zones, because they are very, very
rich biodiversity areas which are creating more fish outside of
the no-take zones.
Senator Snowe. Right, and in Florida they have a number of
no-take zones. But has there been any attention placed in those
areas where the pressure might be greater?
Ms. Yozell. We have not noticed it. I really believe that
it is an effective tool for assisting the fishing community and
the dive community outside of those areas. I do not think the
level of fishing has increased.
Senator Snowe. Do you think it is publicly known that there
are compatible uses of the sanctuary? Is that a widely known
Ms. Yozell. I think that is a mixed bag. I think some
people believe that it is the heavy hand of the government, and
others who are living and working and closely understand the
sanctuary understand that it is mixed use. I think that is why
again in our request we are trying to much harder to get the
education and outreach component fulfilled.
Senator Snowe. Right, and I think that it is important for
the agency to get that message out, because it would minimize
the adversarial relationship that might develop between the
communities and the agency with respect to operating a
I noticed in the testimony of Mike Collins, who we will be
hearing in the next panel, his comments on the process in
Florida involved in developing a sanctuary management plan. It
became controversial and then the plan disappeared, he said,
``in the Beltway for a year.'' The agency provided, I gather, a
less than objective and open process at that point. It did not
encourage this type of openness that is critical.
I really think that it is absolutely essential, otherwise,
no matter how well intended a plan or effort is on the part of
the Federal Government, if it is not well understood the
motivations are second-guessed, or other new issues develop
that have not been subject to a public process, and you are
clearly going to have some serious problems overcome.
Fortunately, it did not cause the plan to fail, in the
final analysis and Mr. Collins supports it. But he is saying
that we always have to have an open public process, and I would
certainly encourage that.
Ms. Yozell. Madam Chair, you are 150 percent right on when
it comes to that.
Senator Snowe. It is about the only time, but that is all
right. Thank you. People do not often say that.
Ms. Yozell. We have learned so much through our experience
in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. I want to if I
could pass to you--this is an advertisement that has been done
by the Monroe County Development Council supporting the
sanctuary and the no-take zones and all of the things that
people were so paranoid about initially. The Chamber of
Commerce is doing it, CNN is running ads.
The more open the process, the better the consequence. That
is what we are doing in this Tortugas 2000 effort, where we are
making 180 square miles of area an ecological reserve. The
openness has made--it is just like night and day, the
difference in our ability to accomplish this.
Senator Snowe. Well, I appreciate your testimony on this
issue, and I intend to work with you and others in the agency.
I will be drafting legislation on the reauthorization of the
Sanctuaries Act and I am going to take into account many of the
issues here today, as well as your comments on the Coral Reef
On another matter that I want to raise, and I suspect you
probably anticipated it, concerning the New England Fisheries
Management Council decision, I have to register my opposition
to the Secretary's recent decision. I want to be sure that
everybody in your agency understands my very strong
dissatisfaction with what happened in wresting from the State
of Maine one of its at-large seats on the Fisheries Management
Council. Since your agency is responsible for the council, I
wanted to make sure you understand. I did raise this yesterday
with Dr. Baker.
But I have to tell you how unhappy not only I am, but the
people who are subject to the decisions made by the council.
Maine fishing communities lost that seat to the State of New
Hampshire. What I am saying here is that those seats have been
proportional. Maine has had two at-large seats since the
inception of the council. Just as Massachusetts has had three
seats, Maine has had two at-large.
We have 3,500 miles of coast line. The State of New
Hampshire has 11. So that is one representative for every 3.7
miles and we have one representative for every 1,167 miles--we
also have 25 times the industry as in New Hampshire.
I am not trying to pit one State against another. There was
a very good reason for that proportionality on the at-large
seats on the council. What it is going to do is place a
tremendous burden on the individual that is there that has an
at-large seat and the council member obligatory seat. In fact,
I was talking to the only remaining at-large representative the
other day and he said: I just do not know how we are going to
do it. There are so many issues and challenges facing our
We have a $273 million industry in the State of Maine. The
State of New Hampshire has $13 million. So you can imagine the
enormity of the problems that are facing our industry at a time
when we have a crisis in the groundfish industry, as Senator
Kerry will tell you. Yet now we are facing it with reduced
Yes, sometimes our interests will coincide, but other times
they will not, as in the issues concerning the groundfish
industry. So we have lost our representation and that
represents a significant hardship to people who do not deserve
to face this problem on top of everything else.
We did not even have a chance to discuss this with
Secretary Daly. We had none. I tried to do it. I tried to call
him a number of times, with no response. I wanted to have a
discussion as to why it mattered to my industry and the State
of Maine. Unfortunately it became an arbitrary decision, rather
than sitting down and talking about it to figure out how we
could resolve the situation.
We are not pitting State against State. In New England, are
all in this together. But you could see the difference between
having a 3500 mile coast line and a $273 million industry
versus 11 miles and a $13 million industry.
So here we are, facing this kind of a confrontation when it
was unnecessary. Unfortunately, the fishing communities in my
state get to suffer from it. I am hoping the Secretary will
reconsider his decision. But since NOAA oversees the council
and NMFS, I wanted to be sure that I expressed my strong
dissatisfaction, unhappiness and disappointment that this kind
of arbitrary decision was made.
Ms. Yozell. Senator, let me assure you we do not take this
issue lightly at all, and I will make sure that Secretary Daly
understands where you stand on this issue.
Senator Snowe. I appreciate it.
Again, I want to thank you, Ms. Yozell, for your testimony
and for your colleagues participation here today. Thank you
very much for being here.
Ms. Yozell. Thank you.
Senator Snowe. We will continue to work on these two
issues. Thank you.
Ms. Yozell. I look forward to working with the Committee.
Senator Snowe. Thank you.
Ms. Yozell. Thank you.
Senator Snowe. We will now proceed to our second panel of
distinguished witnesses. I am pleased to welcome Ms. Renee
Cooper, the Executive Director of the Caribbean Marine Research
Center. The next witness will be Dr. Cynthia Hunter, Curator of
the Waikiki Aquarium. We will also hear from Dr. Phillip
Dustan, who currently serves as the Science Advisor to The
Cousteau Society, and Mr. Michael Collins, a fishing guide from
Florida who has served on several sanctuary advisory committees
in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. Also on our
panel will be Dr. Michael Connor, Vice President for Programs
and Exhibits at the New England Aquarium.
I would like to welcome all of our guests, and I thank you
for taking the time for being here on these important issues. I
would ask you to summarize your comments to 5 minutes, and we
will place your full written testimony in the hearing record.
Ms. Cooper, we will begin with you. Welcome.
STATEMENT OF C. RENEE COOPER, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, CARIBBEAN
MARINE RESEARCH CENTER
Ms. Cooper. Madam Chairwoman, thank you for the opportunity
to testify on behalf of coral reef conservation. I imagine that
few people outside of this room understand the urgency of the
need for this legislation. I commend you, Madam Chairwoman and
committee members, for taking action to provide for the
revitalization of an invaluable resource, our Nation's coral
The Perry Institute for Marine Science, which operates the
Caribbean Marine Research Center, CMRC, and one of the six
regional centers of the National Undersea Research Program, has
conducted all facets of coral reef research for 30 years. CMRC
operates the largest field station and marine laboratory in the
southeastern U.S., the Gulf Coast, and Caribbean region, and is
one of the premier sites for coral reef research in the world.
Our work includes applying biotechnology to rebuild injured
coral reefs, assessing coral reef health, and evaluating the
impacts of disease, pollution, coral bleaching, and global
warming on coral reefs.
CMRC strongly endorses the efforts being made by this
committee's leadership to establish a coral reef conservation
program. The importance of such legislation cannot be
overstated. We need this legislation because coral reefs and
the marine resources that depend on them are severely
threatened throughout the world. Human activities that cause
stress, deterioration, and death to coral reef ecosystems have
increased significantly over the past several decades.
Approximately 60 percent of the world's coral reefs are
currently threatened by human activities, including intense
coastal development, overfishing, and pollution. Ten percent of
the world's reefs are severely damaged or destroyed. Many coral
reefs can recover to a healthy state if stresses are removed or
reduced through conservation actions like the ones made
possible through the pending legislation.
Coral reefs are estimated to be worth $375 billion annually
by providing fish, medicines, tourism revenues, and coastal
protection for more than 100 countries. Coral reefs and coastal
areas account for 38 percent of the goods and services provided
by the Earth's ecosystems. This equates to over $12.5 trillion
per year, slightly more than from terrestrial systems.
Over 30 drugs from the oceans, many of which come from
coral reef environments, are under development. Biotechnology
discoveries in reef environments also have application in reef
restoration. CMRC is sponsoring research that will provide a
simple and universal solution to the world's declining reef
communities by inducing coral reef rejuvenation and
restoration. This revolutionary solution focuses on the
development of a coral fly paper, a chemically treated surface
designed to induce coral larvae to settle from the plankton and
metamorphose into baby corals.
CMRC believes enactment of a coral conservation bill would
be a significant step forward in the rejuvenation of the
country's coral reefs. Current efforts are focused on
assessment, monitoring, and enforcement in coral reef areas. We
could continue to monitor the decline of our coral reefs for
years to come and we can take preemptive action. The provisions
of this bill directly support the next vital step of verifying,
demonstrating, and implementing coral reef conservation and
My sincere hope is that this committee will move forward to
enact a coral reef conservation program which will propel this
Nation into an international leadership position on coral reef
conservation and management. CMRC is prepared to work with and
to support this committee's initiative in every possible way.
Coral reefs in the U.S. and throughout the world provide
enormous benefits to our society and merit the full attention
of this Congress and of this country.
[The prepared statement of Ms. Cooper follows:]
Prepared Statement of C. Renee Cooper, Executive Director,
Caribbean Marine Research Center
Madam Chairwoman, as President of the Caribbean Marine Research
Center I am pleased to appear before you today on behalf of the Perry
Institute of Marine Science and the Caribbean Marine Research Center to
strongly endorse this Subcommittee's commitment to coral reef
The Caribbean Marine Research Center (``CMRC''), one of the six
regional centers participating in the National Undersea Research
Program, has a thirty year history of accomplishment in coral reef
research and conservation. CMRC operates the largest field station and
marine laboratory in the southeast United States, Gulf Coast and
Caribbean region. Its research facilities are one of the premier sites
for coral reef research in the world.
Researchers from approximately 120 U.S. universities and research
institutions have conducted research projects at CMRC's research
facilities. More than 150 scientists have come to CMRC's research
facilities to undertake coral reef research. Based on their research at
CMRC's facilities, these scientists have published 155 scientific
papers on coral reef conservation and restoration.
Recent coral reef projects conducted at CMRC's research facilities
or sponsored by CMRC include research on (1) how to rebuild injured
coral reefs by applying biotechnology to reseed damaged reefs; (2)
methodologies to assess the health of coral reefs and other reef
organisms; (3) the effect of oceanographic conditions on nutrient
transport and the health of coral reefs; (4) the optimal light and
temperature conditions needed for coral reef growth; (5) the impact of
global warming on coral reefs, including the impact of ultraviolet
radiation on tropical reefs; (6) the impact of various pollutants on
coral reefs; (7) the effects of increased water turbidity on coral reef
survival; (8) the range of natural variation in coral reef health and
ecosystem structure; (9) methodologies for identifying and monitoring
the incidence of coral disease; (10) larval production and
metamorphosis in coral reefs; (11) the physiology of coral reefs; (12)
the impact of hurricanes on reefs; (13) the community structure of reef
corals; and (14) the phenomena of coral bleaching and recovery.
The previous Director of the National Undersea Research Program
characterized CMRC's coral reef program as providing ``an invaluable
service not only to the scientific community, but also to U.S. resource
managers'' because the research conducted at CMRC's facilities ``is
absolutely required to help in the preservation and restoration of the
U.S. [Exclusive Economic Zone] coral reefs....Without the responsive
nature of CMRC's coral reef studies, it would be difficult to determine
how to proceed to save severely damaged corals.''
Although CRMC also conducts extensive research relating to global
warming, fish ecology and fisheries conservation, aquaculture, deep sea
dynamics, alternative energy sources, physical oceanography, and
biotechnology, it is our expertise and experience in coral reef
conservation and restoration which brings us before you today.
CRMC strongly endorses the efforts being made by this Committee's
leadership to establish a coral reef conservation program. The
importance of such legislation cannot be understated. Existing coral
reef programs focus primarily on reef assessment and monitoring
techniques. It is important to take the next step which is to develop,
verify, and implement coral reef conservation methods and restoration
More than 60% of the world's coral reefs are threatened by human
activities including intense coastal development, overfishing and
pollution. Coral reefs fulfill many vital needs of the United States
providing major commercial and sport fisheries with
habitats essential to their survival during one or more life
supplying the prey that the major species of fish feed
upon since reefs are the primary habitat of many of the prey
protecting our coastal communities from major storm
attracting tourists and supporting the coastal tourist
economy in the tropics and subtropics, and
providing vitally important biotechnology and genetic
material for use in medicines and cancer-arresting drugs and
for use as surgical implants in bone reconstruction.
Coral reefs are estimated to be worth $375 billion annually by
providing fish, medicines, tourism revenues, and coastal protection for
more than 100 countries. As the most productive areas in the ocean,
coastal environments that include coral reefs as a major component
account for 38% of the goods and services provided by the earth's
ecosystems. This magnitude of productivity equates to over $12.5
trillion per year, slightly more than that from terrestrial systems.
Coral reefs support major ocean fisheries such as spiny lobster,
grouper, snapper, jack, ballyhoo, mackerel and dolphin fish. Coral
reefs provide the engine to support the world's fisheries because coral
reef environments provide vital links in the food chain and the
critical habitat that major commercial and sport fish species depend on
for survival during one or more parts of their life cycle. And the
importance of protecting our fisheries cannot be underestimated.
Worldwide, people obtain approximately 16% of their animal protein from
fish--and the demand for seafood is expected to increase by 70% in the
next 35 years. Over 200 million people worldwide depend on fishing for
some portion of their income. A significant portion of the multi-
billion dollar value of international fisheries comes from fisheries
associated with and supported by coral reefs.
An invaluable wealth of medicines and genetic material are waiting
to be discovered in the life forms that inhabit coral reef
environments. For example, as recently as 1997, scientists discovered
that a fish inhabiting reef environments produces a compound that
arrests cancer by stopping the blood flow to tumors.\1\ CMRC has
supported vital biotechnology research on the newly discovered active
compound in a Caribbean soft coral used in skin treatments. This
discovery, along with the development of sustainable harvest
techniques, culture techniques, basic biology and essential habitat
information is expected to lead to a new and economically important
biotechnology industry which holds the promise of new treatments and
\1\ Other examples of anti-cancer drug discoveries from ocean
resources include the following: a chemical in an Indian Ocean mollusk
shows promise as a skin cancer cure; a Caribbean sea whip produces a
compound that has been effective against leukemias and human breast
cancer; agents found in Australian yellow soft coral and a
Mediterranean coral stop malignant tumors from growing; and a New
Zealand yellow sponge produces a promising anticancer chemical.
Over 30 drugs from the oceans, many of which are from coral reef
environments, are under investigation by drug companies. Compounds have
been developed which can be used to sooth swelling caused by sunburn or
chemical irritants by blocking a key enzyme involved in inflammation.
Psoriasis, sunburn and arthritis all involve inflammation that one day
may be treated by an agent found in the soft coral. The same extract
could potentially have many medicinal uses. For example, the extract
might be added to toothpaste for soothing inflamed gums, or to skin
creams to limit sun damage.
The results of biotechnology discoveries in reef environments also
have application in reef restoration. For example, CMRC is sponsoring
research that unlocks the mystery of coral colonization. The new
technology will provide a vital solution to the world's declining reef
communities by inducing coral reef rejuvenation and restoration.
This new research, sponsored by CMRC, the National Undersea
Research Program, and the National Science Foundation, offers the
prospect of responding to the distressing trends in coral decline with
a practical, universal solution. This revolutionary solution focuses on
the development of a ``coral flypaper''--a chemically treated surface
designed to induce coral larvae to settle from the plankton and
metamorphose into baby corals. The larvae of corals must first detect a
chemical signal in their ocean environment before they can settle from
the plankton, attach to a hard surface and develop into mature corals.
The newly discovered signal molecule required by coral larvae is
attached to materials such as glass or tile. The result is ``coral
flypaper'' to cue coral larvae to settle from the water, attach to its
surface and develop into thriving corals.
It is a distressing fact that we need such restoration programs
because coral reefs and the marine resources that depend on them are
severely threatened throughout the world. Direct and indirect human
activities that cause stress, deterioration and death to coral reef
ecosystems have increased significantly over the last several decades.
Approximately 60% of the world's coral reefs are currently threatened
and 10% of the world's reefs are severely damaged or destroyed.
Although many coral reefs can recover to a healthy state if stresses
are removed or reduced through conservation efforts, the facts are that
restoration programs are essential.
The conditions that make coastal areas the prime site of coral reef
growth--shallow water and their place at the crossroads between land
and seas--unfortunately also make them vulnerable to human assault.
Currently more than 2 billion people live in coastal areas and many
more millions crowd the world's beaches and coastal areas each year.
Human activities increasingly cause much of the decline in coral reefs.
Coral reefs in the southeastern United States and the wider Caribbean
region, indeed, reefs throughout the world, are currently under siege
by various threats.
The most accessible coastal environments are becoming heavily
impacted due to the sheer numbers of visitors. Damage is done to
fragile reef areas by careless snorkelers and divers, anchor impacts,
accidental boat groundings and propeller damage. But, coastal
deforestation, coastal development, and beach renourishment projects
are also significant forces impacting coral reefs. Such activities
often cause sediment runoff which clouds nearshore waters and smothers
corals that need sunlight to survive. Contaminants such as fertilizers,
human wastes, toxic chemicals and sediment also come from land-based
pathways, flowing down rivers into tidal estuaries where these
contaminants bleed into the reef environments. Some of these
contaminants promote algal blooms that rob the oxygen content of
coastal waters, choking the life out of fish, corals and countless
other marine creatures. Large portions of the Gulf of Mexico are now
considered ecological ``dead zones'' due to algal blooms.
The introduction of exotic species, those species transplanted from
their place of origin by human actions, represents another threat to
the world's coral reefs. Globally, thousands of exotic species are
estimated to be in the ballast tanks of ships that cruise from one
country to another. The waters of the United States are thought to
receive at least 56 million tons of discarded ballast water a year.
Heavily stressed marine environments are more susceptible to rapidly
colonizing species. For example, the Black Sea was vulnerable in the
1980's to an exotic species introduction due to a combination of
overfishing, coastal habitat degradation, and increasing agricultural
and industrial pollution. With no natural enemies and a diet of fish
eggs, larvae and other plankton, the Atlantic comb jelly--probably
released from a ship's ballast--helped wipe out 85% of the marine
species in the Black Sea. Today, the coral reef environments of the
Florida Keys, Gulf of Mexico and wider Caribbean are equally vulnerable
to exotic species due to heavy ship traffic in the region.
Changes in temperature, climate and atmospheric conditions pose
high risks to marine species living in and comprising coral reef
environments. CMRC has been monitoring these changes and their effects
on coral and other reef organisms for two decades. Data have shown
increases in ultraviolet radiation caused by a decrease in the
protective ozone layer of the atmosphere. Studies on the resulting
effects shows that the increase in radiation has a negative effect on
photosynthesis and, therefore, on the base of the food chain in the
oceans and on primary food production in reef environments. Research
has also shown that the increased radiation damages larval development
in corals, shrimp, crabs, and some fish. These effects could devastate
coral reefs and some fisheries. Other potential devastation resulting
from climate change includes increasing ocean temperatures that
scientific research has linked to the severity in coral bleaching.
Researchers at CMRC have studied natural variation in coral
pigmentation and the factors contributing to coral bleaching since the
mid-1980's when wide-spread coral death resulted from a major bleaching
event. Further study is needed to identify coral reef areas with the
highest risk of bleaching induced death and to discovery ways of
mitigating those threats. Passage of the pending legislation will help
make that important work possible.
We appreciate that you share our concern about the preservation of
healthy coral reef environments and about the urgent need to develop
conservation and restoration methods for coral reefs. We have a chance
to protect our important coral reef resources through sound scientific
methods and the development of viable management approaches.
CMRC believes enactment of S. 725 would be a significant step
forward in the conservation and restoration of coral reefs. We would,
however, suggest a few minor amendments to S. 725. The text of these
amendments is enclosed as Attachment A to my testimony. CMRC believes
these amendments would strengthen S. 725 which provides for a vitally
important next step in the fight to save the viability of our coral
reefs. Current funding and agency support is focused on assessment,
monitoring and enforcement in coral reef areas. The provisions of S.
725 directly support the verification, demonstration and implementation
of coral reef conservation and restoration technologies. This
legislation provides marine resource managers responding to our
nation's urgent plea for action with real solutions and the funding
with which to implement them.
I would also like to apologize to Senator Inouye because we did not
have the time before this testimony was required to be submitted to
carefully examine S. 1253, principally because I was serving on jury
duty last week. However, we would be pleased to offer suggested
amendments to that bill if that would be helpful to you.
Madam Chairwoman, I commend you and Senator McCain for your
leadership in establishing a national coral reef conservation program.
I also commend Senator Inouye and several Members on the other side of
the aisle who are equally interested in this issue and are fully
committed to establishing a national coral reef conservation program.
My sincere hope is that this Committee will move forward to enact a
coral reef conservation program which will propel this nation into an
international leadership position on coral reef conservation and
management. We also recognize that in this era of budgetary limitations
there is substantial difficulty in starting new programs and that our
expectations and goals must be realistic. Nevertheless, CMRC is
prepared to work with, and to support, this Committee's initiative in
every way possible. Coral reefs in the United States and throughout the
world provide enormous benefits to our society and merit the full
attention of this Congress and of this country.
PROPOSED AMENDMENTS TO S. 725
1. Page 1, after line 11, insert the following and renumber
subsequent paragraphs accordingly:
``(3) To verify and demonstrate coral reef conservation and
restoration technologies and methodologies;
``(4) To assist in the conservation, protection and restoration of
coral reefs by developing standard conservation and restoration
criteria and guidelines;''.
2. Page 4, line 14, after the period insert the following:
``Such projects shall be consistent with standardized conservation
and restoration criteria and guidelines developed by the Secretary or
developed pursuant to projects approved under this Act.''.
3. Page 3, line 19 after the second semi-colon, insert the
``the development of standardized conservation and restoration
criteria and guidelines for coral reef resource managers; verifying and
optimizing coral reef protection and restoration methodologies and
technologies; the development of sound scientific methods for
determining the condition of coral reef ecosystems and for identifying
and categorizing the threats to such ecosystems;''.
4. Page 9, amend lines 9-11 to read as follows and renumber
subsequent paragraphs accordingly:
``(4) verifying and optimizing conservation and restoration
methodologies, technologies and procedures through research and
``(5) developing standardized conservation and restoration criteria
for coral reef resource managers;
``(6) developing sound scientific methods for determining the
condition of coral reef ecosystems, identifying and categorizing the
threats to such ecosystems and selecting optimum mitigation and
restoration actions based on the specific circumstances of such
``(7) developing decisionmaking processes and guidelines for coral
reef resource managers;''.
Perry Institute for Marine Science Caribbean Marine Research Center
1. Auburn University
2. Austin Community College. Austin, TX
3. Bahamas National Trust, Exuma Land & Sea Park (Bahamas)
4. Baylor University
5. Boston University
6. Bowling Green State University
7. Brevard Mosquito Control, Brevard County, Florida
8. Bronx Center for Social Services.
9. Brookhaven National Lab--Upton, NY
10. California State University, Monterey Bay
11. California State University, Northridge
12. Carleton University, Canada
13. Center for Marine Conservation
14. Coastal Systems Station, Panama City, FL
15. College of Charleston
16. College of the Atlantic
17. Collage of the Bahamas (Bahamas)
18. Colorado School of Mines
19. Columbia University--Palisades, NY
20. Coral Reef Research Foundation
21. Cornell University
22. CPACC--Organization of American States (OAS)
23. Dalhousie University (Canada)
24. Dartmouth College, Hanover NH
25. Dauphin Island Sea Lab
26. Department of Environmental Protection, Florida
27. Department of Meteorology--Bahamas
28. Dill Geo-Marine
29. Divers Alert Network (DAN)
30. Division Fish and Wildlife, U.S. Virgin Islands
31. Dreyfoos School of the Arts, Palm Beach Co. Public Schools
32. Duke University, Beaufort, NC
34. Eckerd College
35. Exuma High School (Bahamas)
36. FTU--Mote Marine Lab
37. Flamingo Bay Research, Cairns, Australia
38. Florida Atlantic University
39. Florida Environmental Research Institute--The Florida Aquarium,
40. Florida Game & Fish Commission
41. Florida Institute of Oceanography
42. Florida Institute of Technology
43. Florida Keys Marine Laboratory
44. Florida Marine Research Institute
45. Geologisches Institute (Switzerland)
46. Geologish-Palaeontologishes Institut, J.W.Goethe Universitat
47. Georgia Southern University Statesboro, GA
48. Gumbo Limbo Environmental Complex--Boca Raton, FL
49. Harbor Branch Oceanographics Institute
50. Haskins Shellfish Research Laboratory
51. Humboldt State University
52. Institute of Zoology, Germany
53. Instituto Technologico y Estudios Superiores do Monterrey (Mexico)
54. James Cook University
55. Kings College--London (England)
56. Laurentian University (Canada)
57. Looe Key National Marine Sanctuary
58. Maine Maritime Academy
59. Manhattan College
60. Massachusetts Institute of Technology
61. Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology, Brenen, Germany
62. Miami University
63. Michigan State University
64. Monell Chemical Senses Center
65. Moss Landing Marine Labs--Hopkins Marine Station
66. Mote Marina Laboratory (Florida)
67. Natural History Unit, BBC, Briston, UK
68. Naval Research Lab
70. NOAA Flower Gardens National Marine Sanctuary
72. NOAA/Coastal Ocean Office Processes
74. NOAA/Oceanic and Atmospheric Research
75. North Carolina State University
76. North Dakota Geological Survey
77. Northeast Fisheries Science Center NOAA/NMFS
78. Nova University
79. Oasis Program--University of South Florida
80. Oberlin College, Oberlin, OH
81. Office of Naval Research--Bigelow Lab
82. Office of Naval Research, DOD
83. Old Dominion University
84. Oregon State University
85. Pew Charitable Trusts
86. Principia College
87. Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science (Florida)
88. Rutgers University
89. Salem State College
90. Science Applied International
91. Scripps Institute of Oceanography
92. Shearwater Foundation
93. Smith College
94. Smithsonian Institute
95. Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute
96. Southern Cross University (Australia)
97. Southern Methodist University
98. State University of New York--Buffalo
99. State University of New York--Stony Brook
100. Station Marine d'Endoume, Centre d'Oceanologie (France)
101. Stoakes Consulting Group Ltd. (Canada)
102. Swedish Museum of Natural History-Stockholm, Sweden
103. Tetra Tech, Inc.
104. Texas A & M University, College Station
105. Texas A & M University, Galveston
106. Tulane University
107. United States Geological Survey
108. Universita degli Studi dela Calabria (Italy)
109. Universitat Innsbruck, Innsbruck, Austria
110. Universite de Bourgogne, Dijon, France
111. University of Arkansas
112. University of California--Davis
113. University of California--Los Angeles
114. University of California--San Diego
115. University of California - Santa Barbara
116. University of California. - Santa Cruz
117. University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH
118. University of Connecticut
119. University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen. Denmark
120. University of Delaware
121. University Edinburgh, Edinburgh, Scotland
122. University of Florida--Archie Carr Center for Sea Turtle Research,
123. University of Frankfort--Germany
124. University of Georgia
125. University of Graz, Graz, Austria
126. University of Guam Marine Laboratory
127. University of Guam, Mangilao, Guam
128. University of Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany
129. University of Hawaii - Honolulu, HI
130. University of Houston, Houston, TX
131. University of Leicester, Leicester, UK.
132. University of Maine, Walpole, ME
133. University of Maryland-College Park
134. University of Maryland--Eastern Shore
135. University of Maryland--Princess Anne
136. University of Miami
137. University of Mississippi
138. University of New Hampshire
139. University of New Orleans
140. University of North Carolina
141. University of Noith Carolina--Wilmington
142. University of Puerto Rico
143. University of Queensland (Australia)
144. University of Richmond
145. University of Rochester
144. University of South Carolina
147. University at South Florida
148. University of Sydney--Sydney, Australia
149. University of Technology--Sydney, Australia
150. University of Texas--Austin
151. University of Texas--Dallas
152. University of Texas--Houston
153. University of Vigo, Spain
154. University of Virginia
155. University of Washington
156. University of West Florida
157. Utah State University
158. Virginia Institute of Marine Science
159. Warren Wilson College, Asheville, NC
160. Western Washington University
161. Western Washington University-Shannon Point Marine Center
162. Wilmington College, Wilmington, OH
163. Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
164. Wright State University
165. Yale University
Senator Snowe. Thank you very much, Ms. Cooper.
STATEMENT OF PHILLIP DUSTAN, PH.D, SCIENCE ADVISOR, THE
Dr. Dustan. Thank you. Madam Chairman, Chairperson, good
afternoon. My name is Phillip Dustan. I am testifying on behalf
of the Cousteau Society. I am a professor at the College of
Charleston in South Carolina. I am a principal investigator on
the USEPA coral reef monitoring project in the Florida Keys and
also principal investigator on the Sustainable Seas Project. I
would like to share with you some of the results of my work
over the last 25 years in the Florida Keys, and I have brought
a carousel of slides to do that. So if we can lower the lights,
I would be happy to turn on the machine.
As we have heard today, we know that coral reefs are the
largest construction projects on the face of the planet. If you
were approaching from space, the first sign of life you would
have on this planet would actually be coral reefs, as you see
here in the Maldives.
I do not want to dwell on these areas too much.
Corals in many respects are very, very thin amounts of
tissue on top of a rock that they build. So when we are talking
about coral, we are talking about maybe a tenth of a millimeter
of living flesh on top of this skeleton.
Most of the time you see them as you see here, as mostly
these animals that are expanded with their mouths. They are
very active predators, and their yellow-brown color is due to
the algae or symbiotic zozanthellae that live in their tissues.
That is the real key to their ecological success.
What I would like to talk to you about today is my work in
the Florida Keys, down here at the bottom of Florida.
Especially in this photograph taken from the Space Shuttle, the
hydroscape of the Florida area starts at Lake Okeechobee and
this water moves south through the Everglades and through this
area and ultimately down through the Florida Keys, as well as
water moving along the coasts.
This area has undergone explosive growth in the last few
years, and people enjoy certain aspects of living in these
areas. Thousands of people go diving every year. Thousands of
people build houses, and I would like to dwell on this just for
a moment because this is an old mangrove area that was dredged
out and the dredge spoil was put here to build houses on. So
the original soil was disturbed, which opens the area up for
Then every single one of these houses has what you might
call a cesspit. It basically has a pipe that goes down into the
porous rock. There is no sewage infrastructure in most of the
Florida Keys. In a matter of hours, if you flush the toilet in
one of these you will see signs of that out here in the canal.
People like to--they enjoy boating. Small vessels or ships
sometimes go boating on the reefs.
This is what it looks like underwater, where we see the
wreckage of the boat and a lot of broken coral. This particular
grounded boat, in 1974, is a 36-foot trimaran. It absolutely
destroyed an area 10 meters wide and 60 meters long of one of
the most pristine reefs in the Florida Keys at that time, Key
Largo Dry Rocks.
By the way, that reef still looks that way today, except
that it is just overgrown with algae.
My work began in the Florida Keys at Carysfort Reef, the
largest and the most diverse reef in the Florida Keys, in 1974
when I was asked to head up a project funded by the Smithsonian
and the Harbor Branch Foundation. We started the Florida Keys
Coral Reef Project. We surveyed the reef with line transects
and collected actual numerical data on the abundance of corals.
We encountered diseases, such as black band disease, which
you had a photograph of. This particular coral (photo) is
probably 300 to 500 years old and black band disease is
creeping across its surface in terms of millimeters per day.
I had the dubious distinction of discovering the second
scourge of corals or coral disease, white plague, so named
because it leaves behind just the white bright skeleton of the
coral. It is caused by some sort of a microorganism, and we are
beginning to identify that now with one of my colleagues, Dr.
White plague is much more virulent than black band disease.
It will kill a large coral colony like this (photo) in a matter
of sometimes days, but probably mostly months. Recently we have
seen a resurgence of white plague disease, and the divers would
come in and ask: What are all those snowballs on the reef? And
they were just recently dead corals.
So we have corals that are 200 to 300 years old, the elders
of the society, dying in a matter of months.
We also have bleaching. Bleaching has been relatively well
known for about a hundred years. Corals would bleach when they
were stressed. The water is too cold, the water is too hot, the
water is too saline, the water is not saline enough. Put the
corals in the dark, they bleach.
It has only been recently that they have become more
stressed and the environment has become more stressful, that
sometimes they bleach and die.
The bottom line to my research in the Florida Keys from
1975 to 1985 can be summarized in three slides, actually two
with the third follow-on. This is the shallow reef with elkhorn
coral in 1975 on Carysfort Reef in our study site. It
approached about 50 to 60 percent cover of the bottom at that
point. It is a very healthy reef.
Ten years later, in 1985, this is the exact same reef. Most
of this is rubble now. If you look carefully, there is a vee
here that comes out and is probably the scar marks from a
relatively small boat, somewhere between 30 and 50 feet, that
crashed into the reef. So the shallows have been destroyed, and
the corals are not regenerating the way they used to do.
Hurricanes would come through in the fifties and destroy a
reef like this and the reef would regrow in a matter of years.
That is not happening any more.
This is the reef in 1995, the same reef. There is virtually
no living coral in this area. What you see here, these little
black marks, are fish. That is a fish school that has come
through to graze. So we have seen a precipitous decline.
Now, in 1995 the EPA started the Florida Keys Coral Reef
Monitoring Project and I was asked to be a principal
investigator on that.
We took one site here and two other sites down here where
we had been working for a while, and we extended the amount of
our sampling all the way up and down the reefs, because we
wanted to not just look at one site, but we wanted to increase
the spatial scale of our sampling.
We studied, we examined and censused for diseases,
bleaching and various kinds of diseases. We have a new category
called ``other diseases.'' There are probably between 5 and 15
new diseases, and new ones being discovered annually. Our
initial findings actually spawned a second project called the
Coral Reef Disease Study, which is also funded by EPA in the
I will share with you a few repetitive sampling transects.
In 1997 we see a relatively healthy coral with some areas of
dead, but the brown here is living coral tissue with its
symbiotic algae. In October there was a bleaching event and you
can see the white area here is bleached coral. Now, at the same
time this coral became infected with black band disease, and
that is this band.
In May 1998 the coral had recovered its algae, but there
were large areas that were dead and a large part of this is due
to this disease. So corals that are stressed, as we heard
earlier, are more susceptible to disease most probably.
Here is another series of transects I would like to share
with you--1996, 1997, 1998. This is Carysfort Reef and this is
about 10 meters of bottom. This is a live coral here in 1996,
and there is another one here and there is another one here.
This is a dead coral.
This coral in the next picture, 1997, is still alive, but
in 1998 it is dead and being encrusted with algae. This coral
here, you can see here, has a white area. That is white plague,
and it is reef rock here in 1998; it is just turned into rock.
This coral is still alive.
These are the kinds of results that we are finding with our
EPA project, which is probably the most precise and large-scale
monitoring project on the planet for coral reefs at this time.
This graph summarizes what has happened at Carysfort Reef
between 1975 and 1997. In the shallows, with the pictures I
showed you we started at somewhere around 40 percent cover,
went up a little bit, and then precipitously declined, so we
are now at around 10 percent cover or less. In the deeper parts
of the reef we have gone from 60 percent to 50 percent and down
now we are at around 5 or 6 percent on this same reef.
This is the first pictures that anyone has ever done to
show actually that you can use satellites to map and monitor
the change in reefs. In this image what I would like to show
you is, this is an aerial photograph of the reef. This is a
lighthouse right here and that is the shadow of the lighthouse.
This is about a 300 foot long shadow.
This area of this reef, Carysfort, are these sequences that
I have shown you. We have taken the outline of this reef and
used it to outline thematic mapper satellite imagery, and we
have processed this imagery so the color is actually related to
the true color of the reef, the browns and the yellows, and
then out here you can see the blues of the sands.
The vertical axis on this three dimensional rendering is
change over time. It is very clear to see that in the last 16
years that we have this data from we see the most change on the
reef occurring where we have seen the greatest ecological
change. This I think represents the forefront of using
satellite technology to map and monitor coral reefs, and this
was done in my laboratory at the College of Charleston.
Now, Reefs at Risk, which you have heard about was
published about a year ago. It suggests that about 58 percent
of the coral reefs are threatened on the planet. The ones that
are not threatened are the ones more in the central Pacific
areas. There are dramatic threats over here. (Caribbean and
We also have at the same time these coastal hypoxic dead
zones which we have been hearing about. These are outlined on
this map in red. What I have done here, is also placed the
patterns of the ocean currents in this image. What we see here
is, for instance, deforestation in the Amazon will be picked up
by the Guyana current and brought into the Caribbean and out
past the Florida Keys. We have actually detected sediments from
the Guyana Shield from South America on Carysfort Reef.
So everything is connected in the oceans. What I would like
to submit is that reefs are indicators of the health of the
ocean. Not only are they important to themselves, but they are
harbingers of a changing ocean, and harbingers in terms of what
we put in in localized places, what we put in from dustfall
from here has created a series of nested stresses.
I think I have painted a pretty grim picture of what is
going on, and I really would rather not have done that, but
this is the truth. This is what I have seen with my own eyes.
I really like the bill that you have proposed, S. 725,
because it puts the money in the hands of little people. Most
of the work you have seen here, with the exception of EPA, and
even that is grossly underfunded, but most of this was done
with 5 and $10,000 grants or by myself and my students because
we just wanted to do it.
Much of the innovative science today is done on that level,
by people that are innovative and really just constructive and
creative scientists doing this sort of work. That goes for the
conservation industry as well, all the NGO's and everybody
So in summary, I would like to say that Captain Cousteau
actually taught us that the oceans are alive and he shared his
love of the sea with us. He always felt that people would
protect things they love, and we all love coral reefs and we
all love the ocean and we all love people. So I think it is
time we get together and try to make it happen.
Thank you very much, and the Cousteau Society is more than
willing to work with you.
[The prepared statement of Dr. Dustan follows:]
Prepared Statement of Phillip Dustan, Ph.D., Science Advisor,
The Cousteau Society
Good afternoon. My name is Phil Dustan, and I am testifying on
behalf of the Cousteau Society for which I serve as Science Advisor. As
the new millennium approaches, it is appropriate to take stock of the
health and assess the future prospects of the most fantastic undersea
ecosystems ever explored by Captain Cousteau--the world's coral reefs.
The Cousteau Society is a nonprofit, membership-supported
organization dedicated to the protection and improvement of the quality
of life for present and future generations. Created in 1973 by Captain
Jacques-Yves Cousteau, the Society has approximately 150,000 members
worldwide. Cousteau teams have explored the water system throughout the
world for over forty years. Their unique explorations and observations
have been documented in more than forty books, four feature films, and
over one hundred television documentary films that help millions of
people to better understand and appreciate the fragility of life on our
I am a Professor of Biology at the University of Charleston, SC. I
am a coral reef ecologist specializing in the ecology, photophysiology,
and vitality of corals and coral reef communities. Much of my work
centers on detecting changes in the coral reefs of the Florida Keys. I
have worked in the Florida Keys, Bahamas and throughout the Caribbean
Sea, Sinai Peninsula in the Red Sea, and the Seychelles Islands, Indian
Ocean. My field experience includes over 1000 scientific dives,
submersible experiences, and thousands of miles at sea on scientific
research cruises to most of the oceans of the world. As a young
scientist, I first worked with Captain Cousteau in 1974-5 filming,
writing, and editing the Mysteries of the Hidden Reefs, part of the
Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau series. I also have worked on the
synthetic coral reef project in the ecologically closed Biosphere2
experiment in Arizona and participated in developing the use of NASA
satellites to map oceanic productivity. Finally, I am presently a
principal investigator on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Florida Keys Coral Reef/Hardbottom Monitoring Project.
Madame Chair, Members of the Committee, thank you for providing me
with this opportunity to appear today as witness before the
Subcommittee on Oceans and Fisheries.
ANCIENT ECOSYSTEMS FACING MODERN PROBLEMS
Captain Jacques Cousteau opened the eyes of millions of people
around the world to the wonders of the undersea realm. He showed us
that the oceans are alive. His vision and spirit of adventure took us
to places never before experienced. The voyages of Calypso fed our
imagination and sparked our desire to understand the nature of life
beneath the sea. Some of his earliest films focused on coral reefs, the
most marvelous of all underwater ecosystems.
Coral reefs are found throughout the tropical, equatorial waters of
the world's oceans. They are the oldest, most complex ecosystems in the
sea--the marine equivalent of tropical rain forests in terms of
ecosystem diversity and productivity. Coral reefs are a reservoir for
much of the world's marine biodiversity, supply an estimated 10% of the
world's fisheries, protect small island developing states from coastal
erosion, and provide a strong economic base for tourism. Additionally,
we are just beginning to understand the incredible potential this rich
biodiversity may hold for scientific and medical advances.
Modern coral reefs evolved approximately 225 million years ago, and
over this enormous span of time they have developed sophisticated
ecological relationships that support such rich marine biodiversity.
Reefs are built by tiny colonial organisms who compound their skeletal
masses over thousands of years. Crystalline calcium carbonate is
deposited by single celled animal-plants with paper thin tissues who
make skeletons that withstand the strongest seas. Coral reefs are
without doubt the strongest biologically built structures on the
planet, and are the only naturally built ecosystems in the seas that
are visible from space. Coral reefs are nature's biggest construction
Unfortunately, their delicate complexity makes coral reefs
vulnerable to changing environmental conditions, particularly
temperature, sediment, and nutrient concentrations. Ironically, the
many values of coral reefs--as a fisheries resource, for coastal
protection and building materials, and more recently as tourist
attractions--now are contributing to their steady and rapid decline.
Sadly, scientists and resource managers recognize that catastrophic
coral reef degradation is occurring in all oceans of the world at
unprecedented and alarming rates.
Anthropogenic stresses are thought to be contributing to the
deterioration of coral reef ecosystems throughout the world, but most
notably in the Caribbean and the western Atlantic. Growing coastal
populations and related development have altered the ecological
characteristics of watersheds, resulting in rivers overloaded with
sediments, nutrients, and toxic chemicals. Coral reefs subjected to
these conditions are showing signs of decreasing health--coral cover is
disappearing while lethal algal growth is expanding. Overfishing and
the commercial harvest of reef resources have contributed to
unprecedented decline in reef diversity and ecological stability.
Ironically, many reefs also are suffering from increased ``eco-
tourists'' who cause direct, physical damage to the reefs they visit by
taking home ``just one souvenir.'' Finally, coral bleaching is
widespread in every tropical sea, which scientists have linked the
gradual warming of the ocean.
In addition to their intrinsic biological and esthetic values,
coral reefs are important to many regions of the United States as a
source of economic development, principally through tourism, but also
as a foundation for many important recreational and commercial
fisheries. Coral reefs also play a fundamental role in the economic
structure of tropical coastal countries throughout the world, both as
sources for local commercial fisheries and attractions for foreign
visitors. Ultimately, coral reefs may be a vital indicator of overall
oceanic health and global climate developments and may assist in our
understanding of the complex relationships in our global ecosystems.
LONG TERM SCIENTIFIC STUDY ON THE HEALTH OF
THE FLORIDA KEYS CORAL REEFS
My research into coral reefs began with my graduate studies in
Jamaica in 1969. In 1974, I began to investigate man's impact on coral
reefs in the Florida Keys, a project funded by the Smithsonian
Institution and the Harbor Branch Foundation. My direction was to
investigate human impacts on coral reefs. This began the longest,
continuously running study of the health and vitality of corals reefs
in the Florida Keys, and in the world. My approach to the problem was
hierarchical, with studies at the levels of individual corals,
localized populations, and the broader ecosystem. We established a
permanently marked transect study site at Carysfort Reef, the richest
and most diverse reef in the Florida Keys. My research team surveyed
abundance of corals, estimated their recruitment and mortality rates,
and began to assess anthropogenic impacts. Today these data serve as a
baseline for evaluating the degradation of a once healthy coral reef
My team's initial work suggested that the reef tract was changing
quickly. Coral recruitment was much lower than in the West Indies, and
small corals were becoming more difficult to find. Two coral diseases,
Black Band Disease and White Plague were just becoming significant
infectious diseases, and a third condition, algal-sediment
encroachment, comprised the major agents of mortality. In the summer of
1975, we established a study site in the Dry Tortugas, ostensibly as a
control site for the Florida Keys. The reefs there were in much better
condition that the northern Florida Keys, as coral development there
was very rich, with little or no disease.
Returning in 1982 to resurvey Carysfort Reef, I observed that in
seven years coral cover and diversity had increased in the shallow
areas of the reef while the deeper, fore-reef terrace had suffered
significant losses (Dustan and Halas, 1987). Change in shallow water
seemed driven by the destruction of the dominant stands of Acropora
palrnata, elkhorn coral. The area bore the scars of boat groundings,
including pieces of propeller blades and signs of antifouling bottom
paint. Cover had increased because the lush, three-dimensional habitat
had been reduced to planar rubble which covered more of the bottom and
smaller colonizing species were settling on open substrate. However,
deeper colonies were dying from disease and sediment damage, and they
no longer were being replaced by recruitment. High rates of mortality
continued to be documented by other researchers in the Florida Keys
between 1984 and 1991 (Porter and Meier, 1992).
In July 1984, my students and I made observations on the phenotypic
condition of over 9800 corals on 19 different reefs in the Key Largo
region. Sixty percent of the corals showed signs of physical or
biological stress, 5-10 percent were infected with disease and about
one third appeared healthy. Surprisingly, virtually all the areas we
surveyed had approximately the same level of unhealthy corals.
As a control to our observations, we visited the reefs of San
Salvador, Bahamas, site of Columbus' first landing in the Western
Hemisphere. I was surprised to find that similar patterns of reduced
coral vitality. A higher percentage of corals were considered healthy,
but we also found a host of diseases, including Black Band and White
Plague. Therefore, it was disturbing to observe such high percentages
of ``stressed'' corals could be found even in waters that are remote
from industrial pollution or anthropogenic nutrient loading (Dustan,
EARLY FEDERAL RESPONSE TO THREATS
FACING FLORIDA KEYS CORAL REEFS
As a result of increased scientific recognition that Florida Keys
coral reefs were deteriorating, Congress passed legislation to provide
protection to coral reefs and support research on the declining health
of coral reef ecosystems. In 1990, the Florida Keys National Marine
Sanctuary Act established the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary
and directed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (``U.S. EPA'') to
institute a water quality assurance and protection plan for the Florida
Keys, and to monitor the status and trends of the seagrasses, coral
reefs and hardbottom communities and water quality.
My colleagues and I designed the U.S. EPA Coral Reef Monitoring
Project (``CRMP''), to detect change in the status and trends of coral
reef and hardbottom communities of the Florida Keys. We used repetitive
underwater observations and video transects to provide estimates of
biodiversity, distribution, and coverage of reef corals and associated
benthie organisms. Starting - in 1996, the CRMP annually sampled 160
stations at 40 sites on 32 reefs that are distributed throughout the
Florida Keys. In June 1999 we added ten more stations at threes site in
the Dry Tortugas.
When we began this project I felt that we might see some changes
within the first five years. However, the rate of degradation has been
much faster. In three years of sampling we have witnessed increases in
the distribution of diseases which kill corals, increases in the number
of species with diseases, and coral bleaching has become relatively
common. Many of the reefs have lost species.
PRECIPITOUSLY DECLINING HEALTH AT CARYSFORT REEF
Carysfort Reef has continued to decline. By June 1998, coral cover
in the shallows had decreased to approximately 10%, and 5 to 10% in the
deeper habitat zones. During a dive on Carysfort Reef in July 1998, we
were unable to find a single colony of star coral, Montastrea annularis
species complex, that was not infected with the White Plague. Large
colonies (in excess of 1 meter in diameter) were rapidly being
overtaken by White Plague. Since the skeletal growth rate of M.
annularis has been measured at 5 to 10 ram/year, I estimated that these
colonies are at least 100 years old (Dustan, 1975). Some colonies are
at least twice this age, and White Plague kills them in less than a
single year. With such rapid mortality of large colonies, coral cover
may soon fall below 5% cover, and corals will cease providing any
significant contribution to reef framework construction.
It is not an overstatement to suggest that this reef is entering a
state of ecological collapse. Similar ecological degradation has
occurred on many reefs throughout the Florida Keys, including Molasses
Reef, Looe Key, and Sand Key. Carysfort, however, is the only reef
where this longterm change has been documented with quantitative line
transect studies. In fact, the change is so extensive that it can be
detected in Landsat Thematic Mapper satellite imagery.
Interestingly, observations I made in the Dry Tortugas last month
suggest that the reefs there are showing slower decline than in the Key
West area. So it appears that corals in the Dry Tortugas are not
stressed to the same degree as in the "mainland" Florida Keys. Coral
Cover on Bird Key has decreased an estimated 20-25% as opposed to the
5-10% for Cawsfort Reef. These reefs are buffered from Key West by 65
miles of ocean which may help to explain why these reefs are somewhat
healthier than the Keys reefs. Although the reefs in the Dry Tortugas
are in marginally better condition, nevertheless, they are experiencing
considerable decline and there is cause for serious concern.
NESTED LEVELS OF STRESS
Based on my systematic examination of the decline of coral reefs in
the Florida Keys, I have drawn several conclusions regarding root
causes of the collapse of reef ecosystems. Some of the increased
stresses that corals are now exposed to are simply amplifications of
naturally occurring stress, and others are new within the lives of
presently living corals. Many of these stresses are nested within each
other and probably amplify the intensity on any single factor. Reefs in
all the tropical seas are threatened by degraded ecological conditions
that originate locally, regionally, and from the shores of distant
continents (Bryant et. al., 1998; Hatziolos et. al 1998). Remote
oceanic reefs are effected by global change such as elevated ocean
temperatures and increased ultraviolet light. Reefs in coastal waters
are effected by these factors and additional stressors such as
increased sediments, carbon, nutrients and harvesting. Coastal reefs
near population centers have the increased pressures from sewage,
watershed effluent, garbage dumping, and greatly increased levels of
A significant portion of reef degradation may be related to
watershed lands that have been altered from their natural state.
Generally, natural terrestrial ecosystems tend to be conservative and
export little in the way of nutrients, carbon, and sediments.
Agriculture, urbanization, and deforestation reduce the capacity of
terrestrial ecosystems to trap and retain these materials, and the
rivers become overloaded with sediments, nutrients, and toxic
chemicals. Simple runoff becomes an effluent that can have a
significant negative influence on water quality. The addition of
fertilizers, organic carbon, and urban and commercial dumping further
enrich the watersheds effluent as it flows into the sea. Although
concentrations may be diluted, these agents may still affect reef
health. Coral reef ecosystems have evolved to be very efficient in
trapping and retaining nutrients even in concentrations that, though
technically beyond the level of detection, are still ecologically
significant. This creates a situation in which materials from a diffuse
array of sources contribute to pervasive levels of chronic stress to
In the Florida Keys, the question is frequently asked, which is the
single factor mainly responsible, sediments or nutrients? It may well
be that the factor is actually the accumulation of a series of nested
stresses which axe as local as fishing and tourism; as regional as
cities, agriculture, and industry; and as global as deforestation of
the rainforests, the hole in the ozone, and the greenhouse effect. Each
factor compounds upon the others, and the vitality of the reef
Locating the sources of increased nutrient and sediment levels and
other stressors, has proved as elusive as defining the nested levels of
stress. Point sources are usually known and can be controlled through
permitting processes. Non-point sources are much more difficult to
define. The Florida Keys are downstream from almost every source of
sediment or nutrient in the Caribbean basin and Gulf of Mexico. Just
upstream of the Keys, the effluent of cities, towns, and farms slowly
bleeds into the sea through canals, rivers, and coastal bays. The area
extends into the watershed of the Mississippi River and continues
throughout the Caribbean Sea. For example, sediments from as distant as
the Orinoco or Amazon Rivers have been identified on Carysfort Reef
Point sources, such as sewage outfalls or agricultural irrigation
canals, are steady, well defined, and easily traceable. Leaching from
shallow septic tanks, urban lawns, and run-off from agricultural and
deforested lands are considered non-point sources of pollution. They
are widely dispersed and less consistent. Both types contribute to the
hydraulic flow that pushes sediments, nutrients, and contaminants into
the sea. In Florida, some of these materials wash into the sea along
the west and east coasts of the peninsula, some flow through the
Everglades, and others emanate from the Mississippi and lands that are
farther upstream. On a larger geographical scale, the over-addition of
nutrients, organic carbon, and sediments from land use practices are
responsible for coastal hypoxia near river mouths and deltas. Many of
these areas are defined as dead zones because the water is depleted of
oxygen to the extent that it will not support aerobic metabolism
(Cooper, S. and G. Brush, 1991; Malakof, 1998; Costanza et al, 1998).
On still a larger scale, coastal ocean current patterns circulate
coastal pollutants and their effects throughout the seas.
Corals with weakened immune systems are more susceptible to disease
than healthy corals. In the Florida Keys, disease is a significant
source of colony mortality, and appears to be on the increase.
Additionally, coral recruitment and regeneration rates are low and
appear to be decreasing. Increased sedimentation will smother corals,
increased nutrients in the absence of elevated herbivory will result in
algal overgrowth, elevated temperatures will promote bleaching, and
diseases do seem to be more prevalent in areas close to centers of
human habitation. Unfortunately for the coral reefs of the Florida
Keys, these stresses seem to have converged to produce a suite of
multiple stressors which are pushing the reefs into a state of
ecological collapse from which recovery may not be possible within a
human lifetime. It is not an exaggeration to suggest that the world's
coral ecosystems, through neglect, are suffering severe ecological
degradation. Some suggest that, like tropical rain forests, these
biomes will continue their downward spiral. Events such as the mass
bleaching with subsequent mass mortality in the Maidives in May 1998,
raise the question of the influences of global scale anthropogenic
stress such as global warming affecting the health of reefs.
Ultimately, coral reef ecosystem health may be a sensitive indicator of
overall oceanic health and changing climate, and can help to focus our
attentions on preserving the ecological integrity of our global
CORAL REEF CONSERVATION GRANTS
The Cousteau Society strongly supports provisions in S. 725 and S.
1253 establishing an innovative financing mechanism for coral reef
conservation. The availability of these funds will help to foster
innovative projects that reward entrepreneurial and creative approaches
to coral reef conservation. Using federal grants to leverage coral
conservation projects developed at the local level also provides an
important means for involving communities and concerned citizens in
this effort. To assure success, however, adequate financial resources
must be authorized and appropriated.
One positive aspect of this bill is its apparent goal of putting
money into the hands of ``little'' people. Much of the research I have
described was accomplished with small grants or personal funds.
Independent investigator science, not big programs, has been
responsible for most of the creative and insightful science done on
coral reefs. Much of the current reef conservation is accomplished by
similar people, not large programs. Even today, our Coral Reef
Monitoring Project (``CRMP''), the largest, most precise monitoring
project of its kind is done by people with a passion for their work. As
large as our project is, it is still underfunded. Our institutions have
cut then' indirect rates, and people work for reduced wages because
they love coral reefs. From my reading of the bill, it focuses on
putting funds into the hands of ``reef'' people, not programs. Larger
programs may add value to coral reef conservation efforts, if they are
well-designed and implemented, however, they often become unwieldy or
lose focus on the goal of enhancing direct protection or conservation
actions. This bill will provide support where it is needed right now.
For example, the following initiatives could be pursued by
innovative public/private grants:
Develop and test small-scale innovative alternative
Encourage a reef gardening approach to care for local
Support Local conservative issues.
Fund scientific process studies into coral health and
Fund local case studies.
Encourage education activities
Fund graduate student projects related to coral reef
Develop innovative boater awareness programs - Support
the installation and maintenance of mooring buoys
Develop the mariculture of coral reef organisms for
the aquarium trade
In addition, modest funding also could stimulate educational and
public outreach activities, including:
Support the development of strong and continuing
broad-based educational programs at all levels to increase
awareness of the impact of human activities on coral reef
Increase global awareness that ultimately, coral reefs
may be a vital indicator of overall oceanic health and changing
I have noted that stress to coral reefs resides within a series of
nested scales. As the scale increases, the magnitude of the problem
increases and it becomes more difficult to ameliorate environmental
pressures. The legislation before you today, S. 725 and S. 1253,
represents an important step in the fight direction. Assuring the
future of the nation's coral reefs will depend on our willingness to
invest in protecting and maintaining their health. Proposals to address
water quality such as H.R. 673, the Florida Keys Water Quality
Improvement Act (sponsored by Congressman Deutsch (D-FL)), also should
be considered. The Committee also should consider recommendations under
consideration by the Coral Reef Task Force. Clearly, the need for
additional funding over the long term to protect these resources must
not cause us to shirk from our obligations. More comprehensive
legislation will be needed in the future if we are to assure the
survival of the nation's coral reefs for the benefit of present and
In closing I would like to say that I have painted a grim picture
for the future of the reefs of the Florida Keys. It is based on my own
scientific data collected since 1974. I met Captain Cousteau the same
year I began my work in Florida. He shared his personal observations on
the degradation of coral reefs in the Red Sea, and we talked of the
changes that humans caused to reefs. Neither of us ever imagined that
ecological events would progress this far so fast. However, Captain
Cousteau felt that people want to protect things that they love and
The reef is a structure of ancient ecological design. Its physical
morphology, its orientation to the forces of the sea, and its community
structure have been tested and molded by time and natural selection.
Reefs have weathered global climate shifts, plate tectonics, and
dramatic sea level change. The reef community has evolved into a fully
integrated marine civilization superbly adapted to a nutrient
impoverished ocean. Its design for ultimate conservation of nutrients
through symbioses and detailed trophic interactions has made it
vulnerable to small external perturbations. This delicate complexity
makes coral reefs vulnerable to changing environmental conditions,
particularly temperature, sedimentation, increased nutrient
concentrations, and overharvesting. Ironically, the many values of
coral reefs--as a fisheries resource, for coastal protection and
building materials, and as tourist attractions--now are contributing to
their steady and rapid decline and disruption of their biological
integrity. We need to factor these realities into an approach for long-
term reef conservation.
As stewards of these valuable marine resources, the United States
has a responsibility to continue to take steps to conserve coral reefs
within its jurisdiction. Congress has enacted important legislation to
meet this challenge, and supported the establishment of marine
sanctuaries to safeguard specific coral reef ecosystems. More than
ever, coral reef conservation efforts are essential to raise public
awareness about the importance of humanity' s impact on the marine
environment, before current trends becomes irreversible. Clearly,
"business as usual" is no longer acceptable if we are to conserve these
critical resources for the benefits of present and future generations.
We stand on the threshold, but it is not too late to reverse the tide
Madame Chair, members of the Committee, the legislation before you
today is the first step in this direction. The Cousteau Society stands
ready to continue to work with you and the Committee toward the goal of
enhanced conservation of coral reef ecosystems. As a start, I have
attached a series of recommendations compiled by the Cousteau Society
intended to highlight opportunities for enhanced conservation for coral
reefs, and in particular, recommendations for specific scientific
The Conservation of Coral Reefs An Opportunity for Action
JUNE 30, 1999
``Evolution produces a very few new species every million years. If we
are to assume that nature can cope with our feverish
developments, it is probable that mankind would be submitted to
the fate of the dinosaurs. We have a moral obligation toward
our descendants, a patrimony that we must protect if we
ourselves are to survive.''
Recommendations for Congress and the Administration
Enact comprehensive coral reef legislation to address
the root causes of coral reef decline.
Strengthen existing federal programs directed at coral
reef conservation and continue strong support for the
implementation of the Presidential Executive Order on coral
reef protection. Provide additional conservation incentives for
States, territories, or countries with coral reefs or
watersheds that affect coral reefs, to conserve these important
Establish an ongoing interagency working group, including
scientific and policy experts, to identify human activities
which adversely impact U.S. coral reefs, and to develop
recommendations to eliminate or minimize such harm. Recognizing
that ``rivers are the roots of the ocean,'' the group should
address land, water and atmospheric sources of pollution by
developing comprehensive watershed management programs and
other management tools, including integrated coastal area
Actively engage the scientific community by increasing
federal support for coral reef research. Establish an
independent scientific panel to advise federal agencies on
coral reef conservation and related efforts, including the
National Marine Sanctuary Program, responsibilities in U.S.
territories and international initiatives.
Establish water quality goals and standards (including
sediment and nutrient loading, and biological oxygen demand)
compatible with the maintenance of healthy reef systems. Focus
attention on preserving the ecological integrity of the reef
system and its watershed, not simply the physical reef
structure. Reduce inputs of excessive nutrients, untreated or
partially-treated sewage, sedimentation and other
pollutantsintegrity of reefs as they can contribute increased
nutrient and sediment loading from distant sources.
Increase efforts for coral reef restoration with
emphasis on whole ecosystem restoration that includes attention
to ecologically-connected watershed and airshed components.
Address issues at the appropriate geographic scale, including
local, regional, and global levels. Focus on the design and
implementation of best practices and support appropriate
Establish national and international programs to
utilize remote sensing capabilities to map and monitor the
global distribution and health of coral reef communities and
identify potential hazards to their future. Develop a program
within NASA's Earth Science Enterprise to map and monitor the
global distribution and health of coral reef communities and
identify potential hazards to their future (and make this
information widely available through the Internet). Remote
sensing data should be combined with standardized field
sampling and Geographical Information Systems analyses. NASA
should consider using Space Station Freedom to monitor reefs in
Promote the establishment and expansion of marine
protected areas and strengthen support for applied scientific
study and monitoring, especially in core nursery and
recruitment zones. Establish the Dry Tortugas as an ecological
reserve, and expand the Flower Garden Banks, Gray's Reef and
American Samoa Sanctuaries to assure their future viability.
Consider immediate sanctuary designation or protected area
status for the northern Hawaiian Islands and the U.S. Pacific
Islands: Johnston, Palmyra Atolls, Kingman Reef and Howard and
Increase aid for coral reef conservation to American
tropical trust territories in the Pacific and Caribbean
regions, principally Guam, American Samoa, and Puerto Rico.
Assure adequate Coast Guard funding to help patrol remote reefs
and deter illegal fishing activities, remove derelict
shipwrecks, and enforce conservation regulations.
Ensure that that the knowledge and means for coral
reef management is transferred to tropical developing nations
where most of the world's coral reefs are located. Expand
efforts by the Agency for International Development and the
Peace Corps to address coral reef conservation concerns in
developing countries, focusing on integrated coastal area
management, fisheries conservation, and education and community
involvement. Respect and incorporate local knowledge into such
Assure that economic demands and trade do not result
in further harm to reefs. Support the establishment of
certification programs to eliminate the use of cyanide in fish
capture, and restrict the trade in coral or coral products that
threaten reef communities. Consider the use of sanctions for
nations that engage in illegal fishing practices such as the
live fish trade, cyanide fishing, or the use of dynamite.
Consider adopting debt for nature swaps as a tool for reef
Strengthen U.S. involvement and financial support for
the International Coral Reef Initiative, and support full
implementation of the Biodiversity Convention and the Jakarta
Mandate on Marine and Coastal Biodiversity, along with other
international agreements on marine protection and conservation.
Recognize the critical role of education by supporting
the development of strong and continuing broad-based
educational programs at all levels to increase awareness of the
impact of human activities on coral reef ecosystems. Work with
key parties to increase global awareness that ultimately, coral
reefs may be a vital indicator of overall oceanic health and
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR RESEARCH
Test the hypothesis that coral reefs are harbingers of
change in response to an anthropogenic alteration of the
physical and chemical environment of the sea.
Create a GAP analysis process to identify geographic
areas where baseline data on the distribution and health of
coral reef ecosystems is not available.
Develop remote sensing protocols to detect on-going
ecological perturbations that impact coral reefs and to
estimate the rates of relevant ecological processes such as
primary production, calcification, and the impact that reefs
have on surrounding seas.
Support the establishment of a scientifically rigorous
global coral reef monitoring network at selected locations in
all the tropical reef regions of the world that is designed to
detect change at the community level.
Develop research initiatives that focus on defining
the linkages between habitat degradation in temperate and
topical nations with coral reef health and vitality.
Strengthen support for applied scientific study and
monitoring, especially in core nursery and recruitment zones.
Support the establishment of a Center for the Study of
Diseases of Marine Organisms which is closely linked to the
Center for Disease Control.
Bryant, D, et al., 1998. Reefs at Risk. Washington, DC, World Resources
Institute. Cooper, S. and G. Brush, 1991. Long-term history of
Chesapeake Bay anoxia. Science 254:992-996.
Costanza, R., et al, 1998. Principles for Sustainable Governance of the
oceans. Science 281: 198-199.
Dustan, P. 1993. Developing Methods for Assessing Coral Reef Vitality:
A tale of Two Scales: Global Aspects of Coral Reefs, 10-11 June.
University of Miami. pp. M8-M14.
Dustan, P., 1987. Preliminary observations on the vitality of reef
corals in San Salvador, Bahamas. In Proceedings of the Third
Symposium on theology of The Bahamas: Fort Lauderdale, Florida,
CCFL Bahamian Field Station, p 57-65.
Dustan, P. 1975. On growth and form in the reef-building coral
Montastrea annularis (Ellis and Solander). Marine Biology
Dustan, P. and J. Halas, 1987. Changes in the reef-coral population of
Carysfort Reef, Key Largo, Florida, 1975-1982. Coral Reefs, 6:91-
Hatziolos, M., A.J. Hooten, M. Fodor.(eds), 1998. Coral Reefs:
Challenges and opportunities for sustainable management.
Washington, DC, The World Bank.
Malakoff, D. 1998. Death by suffocation in the Gulf of Mexico. Science
Porter, J.W. and O.W. Meier. 1992. Quantification of loss and change in
Floridian reef coral populations. Amer. Zool. 32:625-640.f
Richardson, Laurie, W. Goldberg, R. Carlton, and J.C. Halas. 1998,
Coral disease outbreak in the Florida Keys: Plague Type II. Rev.
Trop. Biol., 46 Supl. 5:187-198
Senator Snowe. I appreciate that, Dr. Dustan. It has been
very helpful as well.
You were showing a reef that was destroyed by a boat years
ago and it is still in the same condition. Can that be rebuilt?
Dr. Dustan. You could rebuild it if the appropriate quality
of the environment were there. There have been some wonderful
reconstructions, mostly by Harold Hudson down in the Florida
Keys. In some places he has taken these corals and cemented
them back in place, and they die now.
It used to be, for example--in the first year after the Dry
Rocks wreck, the corals regrew dramatically. But then about 5
years later they started to die, in the eighties. That
particular coral, Acoopora palmata, which I think is so
amazing, was the signature coral of the Florida Keys. That is
the coral you think of, elkhorn coral. Last year we had a very
serious discussion on the coral list-server about whether or
not it should be put on the Endangered Species List.
Senator Snowe. Thank you. I appreciate it.
Dr. Hunter, your equipment is ready.
STATEMENT OF CYNTHIA HUNTER, PH.D., CURATOR,
WAIKIKI AQUARIUM, UNIVERSITY OF HAWAII
Dr. Hunter. Yes, it is.
Senator Snowe. OK.
Dr. Hunter. Thank you, Madam Chairwoman, and thanks to your
great staff for their prompt assistance with a dead battery.
Senator Snowe. Are they technologically proficient?
Dr. Hunter. They are awesome.
I am Cynthia Hunter. I am the Curator at Waikiki Aquarium,
University of Hawaii. I have been working around reefs in the
Caribbean and more recently in the Pacific for the last 20
In the most expedient use of your time and the committee's
time and in hopes that a picture really does convey a thousand
words, and because the reefs of the Pacific are such a long way
from Capitol Hill, we have prepared about a three and a half
minute video clip.
I wanted to explain, and maybe you will relay this message
to Senator Breaux, more about what corals are, so we can better
understand their vulnerability. I believe this is very
important both for the public and for the committee, and that
way we will better understand the need for immediate actions.
Briefly, reefs are not rock structures, but they are
composed of thousands of organisms living interdependently in a
very complex and productive ecosystem. It is all based on the
living corals themselves. They produce the structure and the
food base for what we call coral reef ecosystems.
Corals are living animals, but they do not look like us or
cows or fish, certainly. But they carry on the basic processes
of life. That is, they have need for nutrition, they grow in
size, and they reproduce.
The key to corals as reef builders is that, as Dr. Dustan
referred to, they produce a hard mineral skeleton. This again
is the reef framework. Some people think perhaps that coral
reefs are rocks based on the fact that they have these mineral
skeletons. But it is this thin layer of living coral tissue
that can produce a coral colony. A single individual colony may
easily grow to the size of this room.
How do they do that? Again, Phil made reference, corals
have a secret. It sounds wild, but it's true. They have single-
celled algae: plants that live inside their cells. These plants
use the energy from the sun through the process of
photosynthesis and they provide carbohydrates or food energy to
the corals, and that allows them the energy to produce this
enormous reef framework.
Corals grow upward and outward, some very quickly, up to a
quarter meter a year, but more often on the order of one to two
centimeters each year.
Fish, and other creatures of course, urchins, lobsters,
etcetera, depend on the corals and associated organisms and
seaweeds for food and shelter.
So this sets the stage for our understanding of the threats
to reefs. Runoff and sediment, of course, decrease light.
Increased fertilizers cause an overgrowth of algae over the
slower growing corals. Increased stress, such as from elevated
sea water temperatures, will result in coral bleaching, and I
want to explain a little bit more what this bleaching is.
But I will start with the video, please, now.
Thank you again for your patience as we get to this tape.
I am talking about Pacific reefs specifically today and
they are a very different picture than what we have been seeing
in the Atlantic and the Caribbean lately.
Most of us see fish on a coral reef, but of course this is
the major player. This is a closeup of the major players.
Again, a typical reef of the Pacific. The major players are
the ``rocks'' in the background--not rocks atall, but living
corals. Thousands of organisms live inside the holes, nooks,
and crannies of these corals.
On closer inspection, to the untrained eye they may still
look like rocks. These are two of the most common coral species
in the Pacific Ocean. When we look closer, though, you will see
that they are a wall of mouths. They are basically tiny mouths
surrounded by rings of tentacles. Through time lapse
photography, you can see the anemone-like structures actually
move, but not far. They are attached to the bottom. That is why
corals cannot escape runoff and sedimentation.
This is how the anemone-like coral actually produces the
skeleton underneath it. It sits on a platform of the coral
Corals do feed. This is a tidbit offered to a mushroom
coral that can actually open its mouth and ingest the organism.
But again,--reef-building corals are more dependent on these
single-celled algae that live inside their cells, a million per
square centimeter or more of these little algae. They are solar
cells, power packs that contribute to the majority of the
coral's energy needs.
When corals are stressed, these algae are removed from the
association and the animal appears white.
I promised you sex: reproduction. These are corals, captive
corals at Waikiki Aquarium that have been there for about 12
years. This video was taken 2 weeks ago at new moon. At 9
o'clock at night, guaranteed, every June, at new moon, they
will release eggs and sperm into the water. The eggs and sperm
are fertilized there and form a coral larva or embryo like
this, that may swim for days, weeks or months, before settling
on the reef to grow into a new colony.
This next part you will need to watch quickly. This is
coral growth upward and outward. I will show you one more time,
upward and outward. That is two months worth of coral growth,
in a very quickly growing species.
This coral is very large, probably more than 200 or 300
years old. We expect that it was already a large coral colony
when Captain Cook sailed into Kealakekua Bay on the Island of
Hawaii, when this country was still in its infancy.
Of course, reefs provide enormous economic benefit in the
Pacific islands from fisheries, tourism, shoreline protection,
and the basic biological diversity that we have heard so much
about already this afternoon. Reefs are beset by a number of
challenges. I hope this explanation has helped explain why they
are sensitive on a number of fronts.
To preserve and restore reefs in the U.S. Pacific islands,
we need to develop and enforce fisheries policy and coastal
land use policy. We need to establish marine protected areas.
We need to assess, map, and monitor current reef status, but
not only current reef status. We need to assess and monitor the
responsive of coral reefs to management actions that we take.
We need education, about the importance and fragility of reefs,
and also for the training of managers and scientists who will
be charged with the preservation of these ecosystems into the
Thank you very much.
[The prepared statement of Dr. Hunter follows:]
Prepared Statement of Cynthia Hunter, Ph.D., Curator,
Waikiki Aquarium, University of Hawaii
Madam Chair and members of the subcommittee, thank you for the
opportunity to testify in support of coral reef conservation.
For the past decade, assemblies of scientists, community members,
and resource managers have become increasingly concerned about the
health and sustainability of coral reef ecosystems. A substantial body
of evidence now shows us that many coral reefs are in decline or
threatened on both local and global scales. Immediate and decisive
action is necessary to protect reefs and reef resources from further
Coral reefs are alive--hey are composed of millions of entities
living in complex and interdependent associations. Microscopic algae
living inside coral cells provide the food and energy that enable their
hosts to secrete their skeletons--ediment or turbid water blocks the
light they need to survive and grow. Introduced seaweeds grow over
native coral, resulting in the ultimate loss of reef structure. Some
species of butterflyfish or blennies eat only a few types of corals--
ecline of these corals results in decreasing numbers of butterflyfish,
followed by declines in predators of butterflyfish and blennies, and so
on up the food chain. These tightly-linked associations are what make
reef ecosystems particularly vulnerable to over-harvest, destructive
fishing and land-use practices, and pollution.
Like redwoods, corals may live for hundreds or even thousands of
years. A semi-truck sized coral head in Kealakekua Bay today existed
(although at a much smaller size) at the time when Captain Cook first
sailed to Hawaii in 1778 (and when our nation was in its infancy).
Growing on the order of a centimeter a year, corals such as this
provide habitat and a food base for thousands of other reef species.
Coral reef ecosystems are of nearly incalculable importance to
Pacific island economies. They provide natural shoreline protection, an
attractive tourism base, biological diversity, and essential fisheries
habitat. Nearly a million people inhabited the Hawaiian Islands prior
to western contact, living sustainably on food and resources obtained
from the land and the sea. However, this was before the advent of
combustion engines, chemical fertilizers and pesticides, dredging,
asphalt, and jets bringing an additional 3 million visitors each year.
We must find new ways and management principles to allow the
sustainable use and enjoyment of remaining reef resources.
Funds are urgently needed to establish, maintain and monitor marine
protected areas; to conduct research to develop risk management
protocols and methods for reef restoration; to implement current
management guidelines and enforce regulations; to implement community-
based management strategies; and for the education of our children and
the broader public on what they can do to protect coral reefs.
The Coral Reef Protection Act of 1999 is a significant and timely
move toward the preservation of these unique and productive ecosystems.
Full funding of this important legislation will provide a powerful and
necessary mechanism to build effective management capabilities.
Senator Snowe. Thank you, Dr. Hunter.
STATEMENT OF MICHAEL COLLINS, FISHING GUIDE, ISLAMORADA,
Mr. Collins. Madam Chair, thank you for the opportunity to
come here today. For the record today, my name is Michael
Collins. I am a resident of the Florida Keys and have been a
fishing guide in the Keys and the Everglades for the last 24
I was one of the original members of the Florida Keys
National Marine Sanctuary Citizens Advisory Council. I remained
a member until 2 weeks ago. I was chairman of the council at
the time it produced its recommendations for the sanctuary
management plan and was chairman at the time that plan was
submitted to the Governor and cabinet for their approval and
approval of the participation of the State as an equal partner.
As you no doubt heard, there was a considerable amount of
debate and controversy over the development of that plan. The
controversy was, at least to me, something of a shock. The
advisory council process we employed was the most open
participatory process ever used for resource management on a
broad scale. I remain a huge believer in that process. We have
used it as a model in developing the restudy of the Central and
Southern Florida Project, which is the foundation of the
restoration of the Everglades, and in so doing achieved a
consensus that few would have believed possible at the start.
That plan will come to Congress tomorrow morning. I
attended a press conference earlier today where sugar farmers,
fishermen, national and State environmental organizations, and
just plain citizens stood up to announce their support of that
plan, something that we never would have believed possible, and
I do not believe would have been possible if we had not used
the model of the sanctuaries advisory council.
Where the process broke down and what really was
responsible for the uproar were the times when it was not open
and objective and participatory. The original presentation of
the closed areas proposed for the sanctuary was a disaster.
NOAA allowed one of its scientists to walk in and propose a
minimum of 20 percent of the sanctuary be set aside in a no-
take zone, with predicted benefits that not a single fisherman
in the room believed.
To deal with that credibility hit that event produced, a
community outreach program was planned. Contrary to the advice
of several of the council members, myself included, NOAA gave
the job, not to a member of the community with broad-based
business and social contacts, but to an NGO, the Nature
Conservancy. To find out how well that worked, you can refer to
the GAO report on the subject.
When we finished our work on the draft, it disappeared
behind the Beltway for a year and reappeared with a couple of
new concepts in it that came within a whisker of killing the
whole deal. The worst was a provision that gave the sanctuary
superintendent the sort of regulatory authority that a national
park superintendent enjoys. I will not comment on whether or
not that authority is appropriate for a national park, but I
can tell you for sure that very few in the Keys thought it
appropriate for a marine sanctuary.
In spite of all the above, and it is my belief--in spite of
all the above and it is my belief in part because of all of the
above, we now have a national marine sanctuary in the Keys that
is not a source of controversy. In spite of all the above, we
just had the proposal for the last and largest of the closed
areas, Tortugas 2000, receive the unanimous support of the
environmentalists, commercial and recreational fishermen, and
just plain citizens who sat on the advisory panel.
The reason for the above I believe is that after all the
bureaucratic foulups, NOAA, the advisory council, and all of us
had to let the process become open and objective and
participatory in reality just to survive. When you go through
the sort of microscopic examination that the sanctuary advisory
council was put under for the several years that it took us to
wrap up the management plan, you learn very quickly that the
only defense you are ever going to have in dealing with the
press and your fellow citizens is to be standing on the
soundest and most obvious science that you can get your hands
on. If you do not base your decisions on pure scientific fact,
your neighbors and the press will come after you almost every
time. It was a tough lesson to learn, but I believe we learned
In addition to the above lesson, I believe that we learned
that in selling sanctuaries we should not oversell them. The
benefits of the sanctuary program are real, but they are not as
dramatic as we originally were told. Education and volunteer
programs will eventually provide far more benefit to the
resource than regulations we simply do not have the money to
enforce. But that benefit will take longer to realize.
One benefit that as a stand-alone makes the sanctuary
program worth having is the forum that it provides. In
mandating the national marine sanctuary, Congress sent along
instructions for a water quality protection program to the
Keys. As part of that they told us to set up a water quality
steering committee that is composed of the secretaries of the
state agencies with water quality responsibilities, regional
administrators from EPA, a wide variety of local citizens.
I would suggest to you, after 10 years of uninterrupted
service on advisory panels on resource management, that one
panel may be the most important one I have ever served on. The
water quality issues raised by the sanctuary became the
foundation for the Everglades restoration. It was the questions
that were raised regarding the impacts that Senator Breaux
correctly inquired into of fresh water on marine systems that
led us to ask the questions that brought us to the eventual
restoration, we believe, of the Everglades, with Congress' kind
permission of course.
I would suggest that the establishment of that water
quality protection program and the sanctuary advisory council
alone would justify the establishment of a marine sanctuary.
Regarding the reauthorization of this program, I would
simply suggest that for the establishment and management of all
marine sanctuaries you take whatever steps are necessary to
make sure that an open, objective, and participatory process is
employed in all decisionmaking.
Senator Snowe. Thank you, Mr. Collins.
Finally, Dr. Connor.
STATEMENT OF MICHAEL S. CONNOR, PH.D., VICE PRESIDENT FOR
PROGRAMS AND EXHIBITS, NEW ENGLAND AQUARIUM, CENTRAL WHARF,
Dr. Connor. Thank you, Madam Chair. I thank you for this
opportunity to testify about the reauthorization of the
National Marine Sanctuaries Act, and I want to thank you also
for your support on behalf of bluefin tuna research. We also do
right whale research in your coastal town of Lubeck, have
worked with Maine's fishing community on a series of lobster
forums, and are working closely with a marine mammal stranding
facility that you have supported strongly in the past, and we
appreciate that work.
I am here today representing the New England Aquarium,
which greatly benefits by its proximity to the Studds
Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary. Our mission at the
aquarium is to present, promote, and protect the world of
water, and each year we educate approximately 1.4 million
visitors about our planet's lakes, rivers, and oceans.
Next week we will open the Nation's first digital
interactive immersive computer theater. We have chosen to debut
this theater with a program about Stellwagen Bank. The
experience introduces visitors to the environmental threats
facing Stellwagen Bank, allows them to choose from a variety of
management actions to protect the habitat, and then predicts
the future health of Stellwagen based on the individual and
group decisions made by these visitors.
Stellwagen Bank, located 25 miles east of Boston, was
designated a national marine sanctuary by Congress in 1992,
primarily to protect it from a proposal to construct a floating
gambling casino from sand and gravel mining, and oil and gas
development. Sanctuary designation did protect Stellwagen Bank
from those threats, which have since diminished in their
Since then the public has come to value Stellwagen as the
most important coastal underwater habitat in New England, a
special place in which visitors can experience the marine realm
first-hand, just as they might visit a national park to
experience an old growth forest or a geological wonder.
Stellwagen Bank warrants its special designation as a
marine sanctuary because of the unique characteristics of its
geological history, topography, and coastal circulation that
combine to allow the formation of dense and abundant
aggregations of bait fish and plankton. These aggregations make
Stellwagen Bank a favorite feeding ground for humpback whales,
right whales, and commercially important fish.
Stellwagen Bank has long been important to the
Massachusetts economy for its fishery resources and lately is a
favorite site for whale watching. Whale watching boats carry
nearly one million passengers each year, generating more than
$20 million in revenues.
The comprehensive resource protection provided by the
National Marine Sanctuaries Program is especially important to
Stellwagen Bank, which is threatened by a variety of
activities, including overfishing, habitat disruption, coastal
pollution, atmospheric deposition, shipping, and ship strikes
of whales. While each of these activities is regulated by other
programs, only through the Stellwagen Bank Marine Sanctuary can
the cumulative impacts of all these threats be addressed and
Senator Kerry earlier was asking Ms. Yozell about how
specific problems caused by lack of funding. In Stellwagen Bank
we see problems from bottom trawl damage, which occurs
extensively over the bank. You can easily see the scour marks
of where trawls have dragged the bottom. There has been fishery
closure areas through the fisheries management council, but the
impacts of those closures have not been well monitored because
of lack of funding. As a result, we are not able to determine
whether or not the closures are doing a good job at protecting
This is just one example of how increased funding would
help us do a better job at protecting the Stellwagen Bank
The sanctuary program has been seriously underfunded
relative to its mission and importance to the Nation. Providing
adequate resources for the sanctuary program is the most
important issue that Congress should address in its
reauthorization of the act.
To put the budget in perspective, our aquarium, the New
England Aquarium, this year spent about 50 percent more on our
new exhibit on Stellwagen Bank than NOAA's budget for the
entire year for bank protection, management, education,
research, and enforcement for its 638 square miles. This is a
serious mismatch in funding and importance, and the mismatch is
not restricted to the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary
Additional funding for the sanctuary program would allow
NOAA to enhance conservation efforts by improving the mapping
of critical habitats and other important resources within the
sanctuaries, speeding the development of management plans, and
monitoring the effectiveness of key management decisions.
Perhaps most importantly, the additional funding would allow
the expansion of environmental education programs that would
help people understand these critical habitats and what they
can do to minimize the impacts of human activities.
Armed with this information, the public would become
effective advocates for these precious natural resources and
insist upon appropriate levels of support to ensure their
We are optimistic about future funding opportunities. We
are encouraged by the administration's NOAA Lands Legacy
Initiative, which would increase funding for the program, as
well as Senator Kerry's proposed Coastal Stewardship Act.
Existing funding resources could also be more effectively used
by improving coordination between other parts of NOAA and the
The sanctuary program is still in its infancy and should be
encouraged to experiment and evaluate new management tools.
Sanctuary governance also warrants experimentation. The
aquarium is pleased to serve as a member of the Stellwagen Bank
Advisory Council. As Mr. Collins previously testified, advisory
councils are one of the most important things the sanctuaries
can do. Advisory councils can be effectively used to generate
consensus for sanctuary management proposals since they
represent many of the diverse user groups in the sanctuary
region. Advisory councils can help develop consensus before the
management plans are formally promulgated.
Madam Chairman, in conclusion these marine sanctuaries are
national treasures. I commend you on your efforts on behalf of
the national marine sanctuaries program and I thank you for the
opportunity to provide this testimony.
[The prepared statement of Dr. Connor follows:]
Prepared Statement of Michael S. Conner, Ph.D., Vice President for
Programs and Exhibits, New England Aquarium, Central Wharf,
Madam Chairman, Members of the Subcommittee, thank you for this
opportunity to testify concerning the reauthorization of the National
Marine Sanctuaries Act. I would also like to take this opportunity to
thank Senator Kerry for his tireless efforts on behalf of the National
Marine Sanctuaries Program and particularly the designation of
Stellwagen Bank as a marine sanctuary. I am here today representing the
New England Aquarium, which greatly benefits by its proximity to the
Studds Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary. Our mission at the
Aquarium is to present, promote, and protect the world of water, and
each year we educate approximately 1.4 million visitors about our
planet's lakes, rivers, and oceans. Next week we will open the nation's
first digital, interactive, immersive computer theater. We have chosen
to debut this theater with a program about Stellwagen Bank. The
experience introduces visitors to the environmental threats facing
Stellwagen Bank, allows them to choose from a variety of management
actions to protect the habitat, and then predicts the future health of
Stellwagen based on the individual and group decisions made by these
Stellwagen Bank, located 25 miles east of Boston was designated a
national marine sanctuary by Congress in 1992 primarily to protect it
from a proposal to construct a floating gambling casino and from sand-
and-gravel mining and oil and gas development. Sanctuary designation
did protect Stellwagen Bank from those threats, which have since
diminished in their importance. Since then, the public has come to
value Stellwagen as the most important coastal underwater habitat in
New England' a special place in which visitors can experience the
marine realm first-hand, just as they might visit a national park to
experience an old-growth forest or geological wonder.
Stellwagen Bank warrants its special designation as a marine
sanctuary because of the unique characteristics of its geological
history, topography and coastal circulation, that combine to allow the
formation of dense and abundant aggregations of baitfish and plankton.
These aggregations make Stellwagen Bank a favorite feeding ground for
humpback whales, right whales, and commercially-important fish.
Stellwagen Bank has long been important to the Massachusetts economy
for its fishery resources, and lately as the favorite site for whale
watching. Whale watching boats carry nearly 1 million passengers each
year generating more than $20 million in revenues.
The comprehensive resource protection provided by the National
Marine Sanctuaries Program is especially important to Stellwagen Bank,
which is threatened by a variety of activities including over-fishing,
habitat destruction, coastal pollution, atmospheric deposition,
shipping, and ship strikes of whales. While each of these activities is
regulated by other programs, only through the Stellwagen Bank Marine
Sanctuary Program can the cumulative impacts of all these threats be
addressed and managed.
The National Marine Sanctuaries Program (NMSP) has been seriously
underfunded relative to its mission and importance to the nation.
Providing adequate resources for the NMSP is the most important issue
that Congress should address in its reauthorization of the Act. To put
the budget in perspective, the New England Aquarium has just spent
about 50% more on its new immersive theater exhibit on Stellwagen Bank
than NOAA's budget this year for the entire Stellwagen Bank sanctuary
program. At current funding levels, Stellwagen has only three full-time
staff members to provide the management, resource protection,
enforcement, research, and education activities for its 638 square
miles. There is a serious mismatch in funding and importance, and the
mismatch is not restricted to the Stellwagen Bank National Marine
Additional funding for the NMSP would allow NOAA to enhance
conservation efforts by improving the mapping of critical habitats and
other important resources within the sanctuaries, speeding the
development of management plans, and monitoring the effectiveness of
key management decisions. Perhaps most importantly, the additional
funding would allow the expansion of environmental education programs
that help people understand these critical habitats and what they can
do to minimize the impacts of human activities. Armed with this
information, the public would become effective advocates for these
precious natural resources and insist upon appropriate levels of
support to ensure their protection.
We are optimistic about future funding opportunities. We are
encouraged by the Administration's NOAA Lands Legacy Initiative, which
would increase funding for the program, as well as Senator Kerry's
proposed Coastal Stewardship Act. Existing funding resources could also
be more effectively used by improving coordination between other parts
of NOAA and the NMSP. In particular, NOAA's Coastal Services Center in
Charleston, South Carolina produces a number of products that would be
valuable tools for all Sanctuary managers.
The Sanctuary program is still in its infancy and should be
encouraged to experiment and evaluate new management tools. Sanctuary
governance also warrants experimentation. The Aquarium is pleased to
serve as a member of the Stellwagen Bank Advisory Council. Because
Stellwagen's Advisory Council represents many user groups with
different concerns, we believe these councils can be effectively used
to generate consensus for sanctuary management proposals before new
management plans are formally promulgated.
Madam Chairman, in conclusion, these marine sanctuaries are
national treasures. I commend you on your efforts on behalf of the
National Marine Sanctuaries Program and thank you for the opportunity
to provide this testimony.
Senator Snowe. Well, I thank all of you for sharing your
perspectives and your experience in this area that, as Senator
Breaux was mentioning, has strong bipartisan support. There is
no question that we will address these issues this year. The
question is going to be how and what, will be the most
effective way in which to lend our support and resources toward
Let me just ask about coral reefs, Dr. Dustan, Ms. Cooper,
and Dr. Hunter. I have included a match requirement for the
local conservation grants. In Senator Inouye's, bill he has a
25 percent match requirement and I have a 50 percent. Would
your organizations, or the people with whom you work, be able
to provide that kind of match and would that help to create
some ongoing continuity in public and local participation by
Dr. Dustan. I think the match is helpful. I think, for
example, the administration of my college sometimes grunts at
having to provide a match, but it helps provide release time
for faculty and things like that.
I think it gets the community involved. For instance, in
the Florida Keys if you went to the diving industry and said,
we would like to put out more mooring buoys and we have some
money, but you guys have to put an in-kind match toward that,
people then get invested in the resource, and I think that is
Senator Snowe. Ms. Cooper.
Ms. Cooper. Thank you. Yes, in my line of work we come by
our funds in a difficult way. The 25 percent match is something
that is manageable with the in-kind and the 50 percent is a
little bit more difficult for us. But we recognize the ability
to spread that out throughout many different projects and so we
recognize the benefits of that also.
Senator Snowe. Do you generate a lot of interest among
other organizations, and nonprofits?
Ms. Cooper. We do have partnerships with many universities
and other NGO's. So yes, we have partners, but not real wealthy
ones. It takes extra effort to go out and raise those matching
funds, and we are willing to do that, but it takes more time
and resources for us.
Senator Snowe. Dr. Hunter.
Dr. Hunter. From the university's perspective, again 25
percent seems to be doable, reasonable, and gets us vested in
the program definitely. 50 percent is going to be a big stretch
for most university research programs that address basic
research, assessment and monitoring.
Senator Snowe. So you think it would be more difficult to
reach the 50 percent threshold?
Dr. Hunter. We would be stretching to do that, yes.
Senator Snowe. Do you agree that the match is important,
the general concept of a match requirement?
Dr. Hunter. Absolutely.
Senator Snowe. You all do. Dr. Dustan.
Dr. Dustan. I think in some cases it is very important, but
in other cases no. There are some issues that are very
important to solve and questions need to be answered, and you
just want to put the resources toward it and not worry about
whether or not there is a match. Sometimes a match can be an
Senator Snowe. So you are not sure that it makes a
difference, whether or not it would sustain a program, instead
of just being a one-time grant? If you think about it, the
government gives all of these grants, as they did in 1997. It
would be interesting to catalogue all these grants to see what
has happened, what the impact was, and was the project
maintained beyond that original grant? We can obviously learn
more when we receive information on how many of the 20 grants
issued in 1997 are still under way.
Obviously, we do not want the match to be a deterrent. It
is not intended to raise the bar, rather to increase
involvement at the local level. When you have a greater stake
or if you contribute to a project, then you are going to
enhance local participation.
Dr. Dustan. I think you are absolutely correct, and I think
in the Florida Keys you have a lot of people that have moved to
the Keys to escape any sort of involvement and they just want
to be on their own. There are a lot of individualists down
there, and possibly a match could help bring them together.
Senator Snowe. Ms. Cooper, you mentioned the fact that you
thought it was important to take the legislation to the next
step and to include verifying and implementing various
techniques and conservation methods.
Ms. Cooper. Correct.
Senator Snowe. With regard to assessing, monitoring, and
Ms. Cooper. Mapping and enforcement.
Senator Snowe. Enforcement.
Ms. Cooper. Yes, ma'am. We have been developing
technologies for decades now. They have been proven in the
laboratory for the most part, and what I am looking for are the
linkages to the benefits for marine resource managers. I think
that this bill provides an avenue to do that if it adds
implementation and demonstration in the field of some of these
technologies, so that these managers know what their choices,
their options are, for restoration and conservation.
Senator Snowe. I see. Right now the funds that have been
used in the past, cannot be used for that purpose?
Ms. Cooper. Our funding goes toward basic research,
Senator Snowe. So now you are saying it should be taken a
step further to demonstrate this technology?
Ms. Cooper. Exactly, to demonstrate it and then make it
available to society, to the resource managers that need to
implement it, to conserve and restore the coral reefs.
Senator Snowe. Dr. Dustan and Dr. Hunter, do you agree with
Dr. Dustan. In part I do. I think that we do need to
develop ways to restore reefs. But again, I think the majority
of scientists, of my colleagues, would say that it is futile
until we can figure out how to restore the water quality,
because reefs have evolved in pristine waters. The great
paradox of the reef, as Dr. Hunter has said, the zozanthellae
have figured out how to trap and retain nutrients. They are the
ultimate recycling system on the planet. So you put them down
in tropical waters that are devoid of nutrients, devoid of
sediments. All they have is a lot, a tremendous amount, of
solar energy and a little bit of plankton to eat, and they can
couple all of that.
Once we start to increase the nutrient loading and the
sediment loading in that environment, we push the bounds of
that system, so other creatures now are selected to live in
that environment. No matter what you do to help the corals
grow, unless you can back out the water quality--and there are
ways to do that--I think it is futile to restore the reef.
Senator Snowe. Dr. Hunter, do you have any comments on
Dr. Hunter. I concur with Dr. Dustan.
Senator Snowe. Mr. Collins, yes.
Mr. Collins. I did not mention this earlier, but the reason
I left the advisory council is Governor Bush appointed me to
the governing board of the South Florida Water Management
District. That board elected me chairman. The district
currently spends something on the order of $400,000 a year in
the Keys on storm water master plan development and water
quality monitoring. We are getting ready to embark on a $400
million a year effort with the Federal Government, hopefully
with the permission of Congress.
But I would tell you one thing, that should Congress decide
that they are looking for a match in the Florida Keys I believe
that the amount of money budgeted for the Florida Keys on
behalf of the marine sanctuary--on behalf of the South Florida
Water Management District, we would be willing to match a
considerable amount of whatever you committed in match money.
Senator Snowe. Let me ask you on the sanctuary program.
From your perspective, both Dr. Connor and Mr. Collins, how do
you think the agency should prioritize its responsibility with
respect to implementing and updating the management plans?
Right now, you have management plans, but they are not fully
implemented, is that correct?
Mr. Collins. That is correct.
Senator Snowe. For example, in the Florida Keys, what is
the shortfall at this point? What is necessary to implement the
Mr. Collins. I am not entirely sure what the budget
shortfall is in terms of dollars. I can tell you the areas
where I believe it takes place are really in the critical
areas--water quality, which is the one place where we can
influence the coral reefs. Global warming falls a little bit
outside of our individual influence.
But when you talk about water quality and anthropogenic
influence, that is someplace where we can make a difference. I
think the shortfalls there have hurt us. I believe very
strongly that however many regulations we may pass, education
and volunteer programs are really going to be the answer to
that. So those shortfalls.
In Florida, remember, we have an individual sort of
singular reauthorization problem. It has to be approved every 5
years by the Governor and the cabinet also, who are asking
pretty much the same questions: What have we left undone and
what do we need to do to try to solve that problem?
Senator Snowe. Dr. Connor, I was looking at total funding
amounts under the national marine sanctuaries. If $29 million
were authorized, the Florida Keys Sanctuary would increase from
$2.5 million to $5.8 million. Stellwagen would increase from
$460,000 to $1,058,000.
Would that make a difference in planning? Would that cover
Dr. Connor. It is a really interesting question, and I
think there is a philosophical problem. This is the only
program--well, Coastal Zone Management Act to some extent--that
NOAA vows that is really place-based, like EPA's watershed
management programs. Instead of managing industry by industry,
you are going and managing for a place. This is the first time
you have really managed an offshore area.
I think maybe some of the problem is the attempt to develop
a management plan that is so comprehensive that you get
everything in it. There is a recent evaluation of the program
by NAPA, the National Association of Public Administration and
one of their recommendations, which as a former place-based
manager I really agree with, is: Look, let us set a few
priorities in each of these sanctuaries, let us develop
consensus around one or two issues, and then really push on
them, and see how we go.
I think a step-by-step approach of priority setting is
going to work. The other part that is really difficult in these
sanctuaries is interacting between the sanctuary program and
the other NOAA agencies, particularly NMFS. How do you work
with the fisheries management council over closed areas on the
Senator Snowe. Which you have at the Stellwagen, for
Dr. Connor. Georges Bank, Stellwagen is the same way.
That is why I liked what Mr. Collins said about the
advisory board council process, to the extent that you can work
some of these issues through advisory councils and experiment
with some approaches, see how they work. I think what each of
the sanctuaries needs to do, which is the same thing the
estuary programs are going through, is develop two or three key
goals for the next year and test them. Even more important than
testing them, monitor them to figure out if they worked or not,
because it is important to evaluate what management actions
We have a lot of fishery closed areas, but we really cannot
tell how big the spinoff is and are they doing what we have
Senator Snowe. Well, could you answer the question,
Dr. Connor. With that money, yes, I think you could----
Senator Snowe. No, I was going to ask you about something
else. But you think that would be helpful, that part of it?
Dr. Connor. I think that would be sufficient. Ms. Yozell
made a very clear case that you need some kind of base funding
to be able to pull these programs off, and if you just have a
manager and an educator like they have in Stellwagen Bank it's
hard to do too much of anything. So you need some base staff to
But then beyond that, I think I'd probably focus on making
a few key management recommendations and going from there.
Senator Snowe. What I was going to ask you is what I asked
Ms. Yozell about implementation, whether or not it would make a
difference in getting this kind of money for the
implementation, as well as for the review process.
Mr. Collins. In the keys?
Senator Snowe. Yes.
Mr. Collins. Yes. A large segment of what we tried to zone
out in terms of avoiding user conflict and avoiding people
impacts on natural resources has not been implemented because
we do not have the money for the markers, we do not have the
money for the buoys, we do not have the money for inshore
areas, to mark off flats. We are just sort of starting to
slowly creep into marking some of the more critical wildlife
habitat areas that we have made no-motor zones.
So yes, I believe that would make a significant difference.
Senator Snowe. I had asked you about the pressures placed
on outer areas of the sanctuaries, the no-take zones for
example. You have a number of them in the Keys. Does it place
greater pressure on the fisheries?
Mr. Collins. That was one of the major concerns when we
started. You know, you've got X number of people in the
fishery. The commercial fishermen were convinced that it would.
There is really not much of a sign yet that that is the case,
and the reason for that is it is very hard when you have had a
hurricane and a tropical storm go through the area and wipe out
half of everybody's traps to get a feeling on that.
But the objective people that I know in the commercial
industry have basically said--we are under a trap reduction
program from the State anyway. They have not seen it yet. They
are still concerned about it, but there is no evidence yet that
that is the case.
Senator Snowe. Now, the public process which you mentioned,
which is key, having been through the public process myself on
fisheries: Has the Federal response improved at all?
Mr. Collins. Massively.
Senator Snowe. Massively, in response to what happened in
development of the management plan?
Mr. Collins. It is a Pavlovian training. I mean, the amount
of pain involved in having done it the wrong way convinced a
lot of people that this is not how you do this. Also, it was a
shock. It is very hard for Federal and State agencies--I run
one now. I know exactly how a lot of them think.
But it is very hard for them to believe that average
citizens, when you put them at a table in their aggregate, if
you train them properly, are going to give you things that you
would not figure out yourself. But they do. You know, the
people that are out on the water every day have a perspective
that is never going to be a scientist, but there is in it
If you take the time to teach them, people like myself,
what it is that you are trying to accomplish, how it is you
plan to accomplish it, you are going to get some things back
that you will not get from anyone else. I believe that process,
that advisory council process, is what we used on Everglades
I sat side by side with sugar farmers for 4 years drawing
up that plan. We have been shooting at each other for 20. You
learn things, I just believe very, very strongly. I believe
that Federal and State agencies learn things from people that
they would not get from their own employees.
Senator Snowe. I agree. It is just because you have the
experience. I went through that on the right whale issue, as
I'm sure Dr. Connor remembers. We had a process where the
Federal Government had handed down an edict on how to deal with
right whales in the lobster industry. As you can imagine the
original proposal would have been nothing short of catastrophic
for the industry.
But when we had the public process it was very interesting.
The lobstermen had creative and helpful ideas on how to best
address the problem. They want to work, and work with the
Federal Government. Who spends more time at sea than the
lobstermen and the fishing industry?
It is now much more cooperative and productive working
together, side by side, rather than this adversarial,
contentious relationship. So I think that does happen when a
mandate is handed down, those most affected have to live with
it, rather than saying let us bring everybody in on the
process, and let the solution percolate up into the system.
Simply put, effective public participation makes much more
sense. I think the Federal Government is finally learning that.
One final question for all of you in terms of our
legislation on the coral reef and on the sanctuaries program.
Can you give me any suggestions on any one issue that we should
do in the legislation? What is the major priority?
Dr. Dustan. I think the major priority for the Florida Keys
specifically is build a sewage system.
Senator Snowe: Ms. Cooper.
Ms. Cooper. I would say two things. One is a need for a set
of criteria for resource managers to identify threats and to
prioritize conservation actions to address those threats,
because there is a whole variety out there. Water quality is
the No. 1 threat in some areas, but ship groundings are the
threat in others.
So I would make that available to the resource managers.
The scientific community has an awful lot of information that
has been accumulating and there needs to be some mechanism to
now bring that together and make that available to society.
Also through education. I think people need to understand the
value of the resource, and as that happens I believe your job
will be easier and ours will be, too.
Senator Snowe. Thank you.
Mr. Collins. Again, I said it once before, but I believe a
citizens advisory council may be the strongest message I would
send. The other one is I think it would help if in every
sanctuary, as we did in the Keys, you identify the single
largest threat to that sanctuary and set up a separate steering
group made of State and Federal agency people and knowledgeable
citizens in the area.
In the Keys it was water quality. Maybe it is ship
grounding someplace else. But include the people at the State
level that have responsibilities in that area with the people
at the Federal level, and make them sit down and talk to each
other on a regular basis. It produces surprising results.
Senator Snowe. When we talk about improving water quality,
what are we referring to specifically?
Mr. Collins. Water quality in the Keys, again anthropogenic
sources that we can deal with, quantifiable, I agree. We are
working very hard on water quality issues locally and with the
State agencies. There is a massive waste water problem in the
Keys. There is a storm water problem that is significant in the
We are working on master plans to try to get at both of
them now. There is also an influence from the Everglades,
Florida Bay and fresh water input. We produce fresh water
inputs from the Central and Southern Project in quantities that
fresh water by itself becomes a pollutant.
So we need a broad-based approach. It takes everybody that
has responsibilities in those areas sitting in one room on a
regular basis to get at it.
Senator Snowe. What percentage of water quality problems
could we prevent, as opposed to dealing with an issue like
Mr. Collins. We are researching that very extensively right
now. There is a huge amount of--basically, all the money we can
find getting poured into identifying that now. In inshore areas
surrounding the keys, closed water systems, we can probably
eliminate 90 percent of it. When you start talking about the
reefs, though, there is a serious question about the source of
It would be easy if we could blame it all on ourselves and
solve it right away. But as you get further to the west and as
you strong out along the Keys, you are dealing with an
influence that comes from the Mississippi River south. I am not
sure we are going to do much on that. But what we do have to do
is identify where we are impacting it, where we can spend
money, and that is what they are in the process of doing in
that water quality protection program.
Senator Snowe. Dr. Connor.
Dr. Connor. On the marine sanctuaries reauthorization, I
think the language is mostly codifying the program as we have
understood how it is starting to work. So I think the issue is
funding, funding, and funding.
Senator Snowe. Dr. Hunter.
Dr. Hunter. Back to the coral reef issues, although the
statement is probably the same for both, education I think is
the one direction that is missing from this legislation.
I would like to say that in the coral reef community, coral
reef ecologists and resource managers, we have arrived at an
enormous consensus over the last 5 or 6 years. What you keep
hearing time and time again should not be construed as
platitudes, but we have worked toward these common concerns
about the threats and responses to threats that exist in the
Atlantic, Caribbean, and the Pacific islands.
But as a part of that, I think we can go far through public
education, through PSA's, such as you saw earlier about the
Senator Snowe. What information would you give on a public
service announcement? What should the message be?
Dr. Hunter. There are probably 20 messages that would be
more effective than providing just one.
Senator Snowe. Right. Isn't there a general message or
concept that would be effective?
Dr. Hunter. Right. Connecting the individual's action to
what we see on the coast. For example, in Hawaii we have school
kids, and public groups, who have a stencil that says: ``Think
about this. This is going to the sea.'' They put this picture
of a fish and the words ``Goes to the ocean'' on storm drains
and along gutters. It just brings public awareness up that big
of a step.
Numerous messages like that, I think. Not just to the
school kids. Goodness knows that they get a lot of this. It is
their parents we want to bring back into the ballgame.
Senator Snowe. Ship groundings, what percentage accounts
for destruction of coral reefs through ship groundings or
Dr. Hunter. I think it goes back to what--well, it is
different in the Pacific and the Atlantic again.
Dr. Dustan. It is very different. Many of the reefs in the
Florida Keys are actually named after wrecks of ships: Molasses
Reef, Carysfort Reef. A lot of them are named after wrecks.
What we are having now is continued small boats that are
smashing these reefs, as well as even research vessels. The
Columbus-Islan, the University of Miami, crashed onto Looe Key
Reef and took out a couple of spurs. The Wellwood's radar went
out one night and it crashed into an area on Molasses Reef and
it looked like a McDonald's parking lot. It just graded the
reef into thousands of square feet of flat rubble.
Many of those are navigational errors and there are some
technology issues now. There are some little radar beacons that
will warn global positioning systems. It would be possible
since most people now use GPS systems or navigational systems.
To install little warning devices and use high technology for
A lot of it is educating people. In some respects it boils
down to putting a series of buoys around the reef and a chain.
Senator Snowe. Why can we not mark these reefs? Do
navigational maps show these reefs?
Dr. Dustan. You are absolutely right. But when you are out
there anchored and somebody pulls up in an outboard that they
have rented from the local dive concession and they look at you
and they ask, ``hey, man, where is the reef'', it is apparent
they do not have a clue.
What you will often see now in the Keys, is a series of
buoys around all these reefs, If somebody starts to venture
inside those buoys the people will actually start yelling and
screaming at these boat operators. But for example, on Key
Largo Dry Rocks there is a great big I-beam that marks the reef
and it says ``Danger, Exposed Rocks,'' or something like that.
I have seen people drive their boats right up to the piling to
Mr. Collins. It is true.
Dr. Dustan. Now, I do not know how. Maybe you need a
boating license exam or something like that. Maybe you need
some better education.
Senator Snowe. I gather Mr. Collins agrees with you.
Dr. Dustan. Oh, yes.
Mr. Collins. In the original scoping hearings, the comments
from the Florida Keys fishing guides were limited to two or
three, mainly about water quality, but one of them was: Make a
boating license and an education program leading up to one
mandatory. We still believe that.
Senator Snowe. Are coral reefs marked in the Keys at all?
Mr. Collins. Yes.
Senator Snowe. They are?
Mr. Collins. They are marked. And just as the good doctor
said, people will drive right up to them to see what the marker
says. People ignore the markers. If you look at an aerial view
of the standard markers used by the Coast Guard, they are
covered on both sides because people forget whether it is red
on the right or red on the left, so they go as close to the
marker as they can. So there are massive track marks around all
Senator Snowe. Well, what about this whole issue of
criminal and civil penalties? Do you think that they would be a
strong deterrent? We already have civil penalties today.
Mr. Collins. The concept behind civil versus criminal
penalties was that for a criminal penalty you needed a witness
situation involving the police officer, that was a lot more
participatory on the part of the police officer. If it is a
civil fine, you can just find a track leading down there with a
boat out at the end of it, which is usually what we find, and
basically that fine will hold up.
As has been pointed out, we are severely short of officers.
Senator Snowe. Well, is it NMFS officers that do that,
Coast Guard, or State agents?
Mr. Collins. They act--in the Keys, it is marine patrol
officers, who are also sanctuary officers. The Key Sanctuary is
run in partnership with Florida.
Senator Snowe. They are one of the only sanctuaries that
has that partnership, correct?
Mr. Collins. One of the only areas. But I would point out
to you that I came to the Keys in 1974. There are currently
fewer marine patrol officers in the Florida Keys than there
were in 1974. We are working on that, but again if you do not
have much enforcement it is hard to make a lot of the rest of
the work, and that takes money.
Senator Snowe. Dr. Hunter.
Dr. Hunter. Well, human error is human error. The U.S.
Marines ran into a patch reef in Kaneohe Bay on Monday, ran a
landing craft hard aground on top of one of these reefs.
Senator Snowe. That is not encouraging. I am chair of the
Dr. Hunter. It was a marked reef.
But as to the shipwrecks on the reef in Pago Harbor in
American Samoa, there is another attribute to that. Yes, they
are unsightly and yes, they are a hazard to the reef. They were
driven up in an enormous hurricane and then abandoned because
they were not producing any money after that, of course.
But I think for the local population to see those ships 7
and 8 and 9 years later works in direct opposition to what we
are trying to accomplish. Why would you do your part to try to
protect your coral reef resources when our government cannot
help us get those boats off the reef and out of that harbor?
Senator Snowe. Good point.
Well, I thank all of you for your excellent testimony and
contributions here today, and we are going to take that into
account as we develop the legislation on both coral reef
conservation and reauthorization of the National Marine
Sanctuaries Act. We are all hopefully going to work together on
these goals. I think there is a strong commitment on this
This concludes our hearing. Before we leave, I ask
unanimous consent that the hearing record remain open for 10
legislative days so that the Subcommittee may accept additional
statements and questions from Senators, as well as any other
information that the subcommittee may want to include in the
hearing record. Without objection, it is so ordered.
The hearing is adjourned, and again I thank all of you.
[Whereupon, at 4:53 p.m., the Subcommittee was adjourned.]
A P P E N D I X
Prepared Statement of the Hon. Bob Graham, U.S. Senator from Florida
Senator Snowe, members of the Committee, thank you for the
opportunity to comment on coral reefs and marine sanctuaries,
environmental treasures that are very important to Florida. The
witnesses at this hearing will present their perspectives on the
importance of protecting our fragile coral reefs and marine resources.
I would like to share with you the significance of these resources to
the people of Florida, and especially the Florida Keys.
The Florida Keys are a 158 mile long string of islands at the
southern tip of the Florida peninsula, with 85,000 year round
inhabitants. Two and a half million tourists visit the Florida Keys
each year, to fish, swim, snorkel, dive, and otherwise enjoy the beauty
of these tropical islands and the surrounding waters. According to a
1996 study by the Monroe County Tourism Development Council, the
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and The Nature
Conservancy, almost one-third of visitors to the Keys go snorkeling or
scuba diving, contributing $53 million a year into the local economy
from reef and dive trips alone. An estimated 40% of the Keys' $1.15
billion in annual tourism revenues are reef related.
The popularity of the Keys is threatening the very characteristics
that make them so desirable as a vacation destination. The reefs have
been damaged by ship groundings, and the visibility of the formerly
crystal clear waters is declining. I introduced legislation in 1990 to
establish the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary and protect the
marine habitat while continuing to allow commercial and sport fishing,
diving, boating, and other activities that do not harm the environment
when performed properly.
The sanctuary program has brought together representatives of
federal, state, and local governments as well as environmental groups
and other local interests to develop a plan for protection of the
marine resources. Because 65 percent of the Florida Keys National
Marine Sanctuary is in state waters, the state of Florida works in
partnership with the federal government on sanctuary issues. Local
residents were concerned that they would not have a role in decision
making in the marine sanctuary. In fact, Monroe County residents voted
54.5% to 45.5% against the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary in
1996. Since then, sanctuary supporters have worked with local leaders
to address the concerns of all stakeholders in the management plan.
Currently, a working group representing the sanctuary, Dry Tortugas
National Park, the state of Florida, and local business and
environmental interests are studying the designation of 185 square
nautical miles of the Gulf of Mexico around the Dry Torturgas for
designation as an ecological reserve.
The Sanctuary's management plan states that water quality is the
major factor affecting the health of the living coral reef, the sea
grasses and fisheries stocks in the Florida Keys. If the water quality
is not restored, the health of the coral reef resources will continue
to deteriorate. Residents of the Keys currently depend on inadequate
onsite sewage systems for waste disposal. These systems provide very
little treatment, and allow waste to migrate rapidly to nearby waters.
Recent studies have identified disease causing viruses in many of the
canals along the Keys, and six Key West beaches are currently closed to
fishing and swimming due to bacterial contamination from leaking sewer
pipes. Planning is currently underway to improve the wastewater and
stormwater infrastructure in the Keys, but continued federal assistance
will be necessary to restore the water quality and protect the reef.
The coral reef legislation under consideration today provides much
needed attention and support for protection of these valuable marine
resources. However, both bills focus on the Department of Commerce and
the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration but do not provide
support for the Department of Interior. Currently, the Department of
Interior (DOI) protects significant coral reef resources in U.S.,
commonwealth and territorial waters. The National Park Service manages
9 park units and the Fish and Wildlife Service manages 19 wildlife
refuges containing coral reefs, as shown on the attached figure from
the Coral Reef Task Force web site (http://coralreef.er.usgs.gov/
doi.pncr/figure1.html). Florida's Biscayne National Park and Dry
Tortugas National Park are the two largest NPS units with coral reef
resources. By restricting the benefits of coral reef legislation to the
Department of Commerce, we limit the effectiveness of the United States
to protect all of these special areas.
The first National Park Service unit with coral reef resources was
established in 1935 by presidential proclamation: Fort Jefferson
National Monument, located on the Dry Tortugas at the westernmost end
of the Florida Keys. In 1968, Congress established Biscayne National
Monument, setting aside the northern most stretch of the greater
Florida Keys reef tract. In 1980, Congress expanded and redesignated
both Fort Jefferson and Biscayne as National Parks. These two South
Florida parks along with the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary
represent the largest contiguous subtropical coral reef ecosystem
within the United States. It is important that any legislative proposal
by the Senate reflect this ongoing partnership.
As you are aware, just over one year ago, President Clinton signed
Executive Order 13089, emphasizing the need for a government-wide
effort to protect and restore coral reefs in U.S., commonwealth and
territorial waters. The Executive Order called for the creation of the
Coral Reef Task Force, co-chaired by the Secretary of Interior and
Secretary of Commerce. Secretary Babbitt took the lead in the
development and implementation of the President's Coral Reef Task
Force. The first summit of the Task Force was held in October 1998 at
Biscayne National Park in South Florida. Just as this initial meeting
stressed, any efforts, programs or legislation to support protection of
coral reef resources within the U.S., commonwealth and territorial
waters should include at a minimum both the Department of Interior and
the Department of Commerce. Only through multiple agency support and
partnership will our unique coral reef resources be protected.
Providing the Departments of Interior and Commerce with the authority
to leverage and fund a range of coral reef protection programs is an
important first step.
Response to Written Question Submitted by Hon. Max Cleland to
Question. As you know, the Grays Reef National Marine Sanctuary off
Sapelo Island, Georgia, is a precious resource to Georgia and the
country. I applaud the partnership that NOAA has pursued with minority
students at Savannah State University which has provided them with a
unique opportunity to participate in marine research diving and
education. I am not advocating a position at this time, but wanted to
know if NOAA has any proposal in the works to make GRNMS a marine
reserve, and if so, what would this mean?
Answer. Note: In responding to this question, NOAA is assuming that the
term ``marine reserve'' refers to an area where no consumptive uses are
permitted (i.e., no-take areas).
NOAA's Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary (GRNMS) will begin
reviewing its Management Plan beginning this fall. During the review
process, NOAA will examine the efficacy of all management practices,
including the appropriateness of current boundaries and regulations.
Scoping hearings will be held in late October or early November to
receive the public's views on how the Sanctuary should be managed and
emerging issues. Revising the management plan will be a community-based
process involving the general public through roundtable discussions,
public hearings, workshops, public comments and the Sanctuary Advisory
Council. The Council is comprised of representatives from research,
education, conservation, sport fishing and sport diving interests.
Currently, NOAA has no proposal to establish a marine reserve
within GRNMS. However; this concept may arise during the scoping period
for the management plan review process. If the concept of no-take areas
arises, it will be evaluated along with all other management concepts.
Should it appear that a no-take area is appropriate to effectively
manage the resources of GRNMS, a proposal would be developed in
coordination with relevant interests, the South Atlantic Fishery
Management Council, and the community through public input.
Response to Written Question Submitted by Hon. John F. Kerry to
Question. Earlier this year me New England Aquarium hosted a marine
biodiversity workshop at which scientists identified the deepwater
coral and sponge communities of George's Bank and the Gulf of Maine as
top priority areas for protection. Few think of New England as home to
important coral communities, yet fisherman in the North Atlantic have
stated that in the past they occasionally pulled up these huge
underwater ``trees'' in their fishing nets.
(A) Could you elaborate on the status of these important coral
communities and NOAA's efforts to protect them?
(B) What information does NOAA have regarding the role of deepwater
coral communities in supporting fisheries?
(C) Is NOAA considering designating any areas with deep water
corals as closed or marine protected areas?
Answer. A variety of deep water coral communities exist in U.S. waters
of the Atlantic, Pacific, Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico. Until recently,
relatively little was known about the location and role of these
communities because they were difficult to identify, access and study.
The advent of underwater video technology, more sophisticated sonars
and other tools have allowed researchers to begin better study of these
deep water coral communities. It is clear that these coral communities
are important habitat for a number of fisheries and other species.
There is also evidence that these relatively fragile coral structures
are easily damaged by some activities. NOAA is currently conducting a
review of the status of these important coral communities, efforts to
protect and manage them (including any consideration of marine
protected area designation), and their role in supporting fisheries. We
expect this review to be completed by November 1st and will forward the
findings to you at that time.
Response to Written Questions Submitted by Hon. Olympia J. Snowe to
Question 1. You testified that NOAA will spend $13 million in FY 99 on
coastal zone management, coral reef mapping, water quality improvement,
reef fishery management, education, research, and monitoring. You also
stated that there is no current effort by NOAA for on-the-ground
implementation of conservation efforts at the local level as called for
by the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force's ``Islands Initiative.'' The
International Coral Reef Initiative has likewise identified the three
areas of coastal zone management, research and monitoring, and local
level implementation of coral reef conservation efforts as the most
urgent coral reef conservation needs. Please explain why conservation
efforts at the local level have not been targeted by the
Administration, and whether such efforts should be a priority of any
coral reef legislation?
Answer. In FY 1999 NOAA will spend approximately $13 million from base
budgets of existing NOAA programs such as the Coastal Zone Management
Program, National Marine Sanctuary Program, National Centers for
Coastal Ocean Science, National Undersea Research Program, National Sea
Grant Program, and the National Marine Fisheries Service on activities
directly related to coral reefs. This funding currently supports a
variety of on-the-ground actions to address coral reef issues at
national, regional and local levels.
However, because the funding for these activities comes from base
budgets of programs with responsibilities for a broad range of coastal
issues in addition to coral reefs. Most NOAA funding for coral reef
activities must be determined every year as one of many pressing
coastal issues. Despite the tremendous economic, social, and biological
value of coral reef resources and the significant threats they face,
NOAA has litt1e funding permanently dedicated for activities to
protect, restore and sustainably use coral reef ecosystems.
NOAA is committed to supporting additional local level actions as
outlined in the U.S. Islands Coral Reef Initiative strategy. Additional
support for local level efforts should be a priority of any coral reef
legislation and we are pleased that both S. 725 and S. 1253
specifically include grant programs and authorization leve1s to provide
additional support for local efforts to protect and sustainably use
coral reef ecosystems.
NOAA led the 1999 proposal by the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force to
make the U.S. Island strategy the top priority for any new funding
available in FY 2000. Local level conservation efforts were
specifically cultivated and funded by a joint NOAA and Department of
the Interior initiative in FY 1998 and FY 1999 with limited available
In the FY 2000 President's budget request, NOAA ($12 million) and
the Department of the Interior ($5 million) requested a total of $17
million in new funding to support major portions of the U.S. Islands
strategy and implement additional coral reef conservation measures at
local, regional and national levels. To date, however, NOAA has
received no new appropriations to support the additional local level
actions outlined in the U.S. Islands strategy. The U.S. Islands
strategy will be included as a key part of the national action plan
currently being developed by the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force. The draft
national action plan will be presented at the next meeting of the Task
Force, November 2-3, 1999.
Question 2. In 1997, as part of the International Year of the Reef,
NOAA provided 20 coral reef conservation grants. Please provide for the
record the following: (A) The amount of each of these projects? (B) How
many of these projects are still underway today?
Answer. (A) In 1997, NOAA provided approximately $200,000 to the
National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) to support private-public
partnerships for conservation of marine and coastal resources. Using
these and other resources, NFWF helped fund 18 new coral reef projects
from the Florida Keys to Palau in the western Pacific. While NFWF has
provided some support for coral reef protects in the past, a new
partnership with NOAA made it possible to expand support for coral reef
projects. With additional funding from federal agencies, NFWF continues
to offer a valuable opportunity to leverage federal funds to support
local coral reef conservation efforts.
With the almost $200,000 in federal funds from NOAA, NFWF and the
project grantees were able to generate over $150,000 in nonfederal
funds and in-kind services for the 18 local-level coral reef
conservation projects. Although there was no matching requirement for
these projects, most projects provided some matching resources to
leverage federal funds. The Office of Insular Affairs of the Department
of the Interior also provided federal funding for additional local-
level coral reef projects as part of this joint Year of the Reef
effort. Federal funding for each project ranged from $5,000 to $50,000.
(B) These projects have all been completed. Most of the projects
have made lasting contributions to local communities' efforts to
protect and restore coral reefs. Since many of the projects were
designed to produce educational materials on how to care for, monitor
and protect coral reefs, these project materials continue to be used to
inform school children, tourists, divers and residents.
Federal support from NOAA allowed local project sponsors to conduct
a variety of activities including reseeding reefs with coral larvae in
Guam; training conservation officers and producing educational
materials on coral conservation in Palau; increasing the ability of
local export officials in Indonesia to reduce illegal trade in
protected corals; supporting the Great American Fish Count in US coral
reefs; and supporting a number of education projects in Hawaii and
other US coral reef areas to increase knowledge and awareness about
coral reefs in schools, among tourists, and with the general public.
Brief project descriptions are provided on pages 24-33 in the 1997
NFWF Annual Report. Attached are two copies of the 1997 NFWF Annual
Report for your reference. If you would like additional copies of the
report, please contact NFWF.
Question 3. S. 725, The Coral Reef Conservation Act of 1999, contains a
50 percent matching requirement. This provision is intended to help
local communities build the capacity necessary to raise funds for long-
term sustainability. (A) Do you agree that it is important to build the
capacity to help local projects achieve long-term sustainability? If
so, please explain in detail. (B) Do you feel that grant applicants
would be able to provide a 50 percent match, especially with the aid of
a nonprofit organization to assist with fund raising?
Answer. (A) We think it is very important to help local communities
build the capacity to support and implement projects that promote long-
term sustainability. NOAA helps build local level capacity for coral
reef conservation projects through a number of programs such as the
Coastal Zone Management Program, the National Estuarine Research
Reserve Program, and the Community-Based Restoration Program (National
Marine Fisheries Service) In addition, NOAA continues to work with the
National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to support community-based local-
level conservation, education and restoration projects in coastal and
marine environments. Helping communities acquire the tools,
understanding and other resources to support local actions is critical
to sustainable use of many coastal and marine resources.
(B) We believe that grant programs that require the applicant to
provide some portion of the total funding as match are appropriate in
some situations and have a number of benefits. Requiring applicants to
provide matching resources (as funds or in-kind services) helps
leverage federal funding and can increase involvement of community and
other partners in the project. Many organizations use this type of
matching requirement to encourage applicants to build partnerships
among community, government and nongovernment entities. The projects
resulting from these broader partnerships often have more involvement,
support, applicability and lasting impact at the local level.
While some applicants may need assistance to secure matching
resources, we believe most applicants would be able to provide 50%
using funds or in-kind services. Having an organization available to
assist grantees with finding match and building these partnerships is
useful. However, there may be some groups who are unable to secure this
level of match due to unique circumstances. Some flexibility is
desirable to allow these groups to also be considered for possible
support, and NOAA recognizes the flexibility that both S. 725 and S.
Question 4. What percentage of U.S. Coral Reefs are within National
Marine Sanctuary Boundaries?
Answer. Approximately 5% of all U.S. coral reefs fall within the
boundaries of four National Marine Sanctuaries (NMS); Fagatele Bay NMS
(American Samoa), Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale NMS (Hawaii), Florida
Keys NMS (Florida), and Flower Garden Banks NMS (Texas).
Question 5. What percentage of U.S. coral reefs are within state and
Answer. Approximately 35% of U.S. coral reefs are within state and
territorial waters including those found in the U.S. Virgin Islands,
Puerto Rico, Florida, American Samoa, Guam, Hawaii, and the Northern
Question 6. What percentage of U.S. coral reefs are within the areas
covered by Coastal Zone Management (CZM) Programs?
Answer. Approximately 32% of U.S. coral reefs within state and
territorial waters are within areas addressed by Coastal Zone
Management Programs. Approximately 3% of U.S. coral reefs within
territorial waters are not covered by the CZM Programs (in the U.S.
territories such as Wake, Johnston, arid Baker Islands).
Question 7. What percentage of U.S. coral reefs are protected as part
of Fishery Management Plans?
Although comprehensive maps of all U.S. coral reefs do not exist,
NOAA has recently estimated the total U.S. shallow-water coral reef
area at nearly 17,000 square kilometers (NOAA's State of the Coast
Report, 1998). About 65% of these reefs (approximately 11,000 km2--
mostly in the Northwest Hawaiian Islands) are in federal waters of the
EEZ and therefore under NMFS jurisdiction for fishery purposes.
Overfishing and fishery impacts on habitat have been identified as
major environmental problems on coral reefs worldwide. Therefore,
Fishery Management Plans (FMPs) offer one important management tool for
addressing fishery impacts in federal waters.
Only a small fraction of these reef areas in the EEZ are
permanently protected from all fishing impacts (see ``Additional
protections offered through area closures'' below). Nevertheless, FMPs
offer a very wide and diverse variety of management measures affecting
coral reef fishery species and their associated habitats. These
measures usually address individual species, and may include gear
limitations, seasonal area closures, size or catch limits, etc. that
contribute to the protection of coral reef ecosystems. For this reason,
it is not possible to estimate with any precision the percentage of
reefs by number or by total area that is protected under provisions of
The following provides a more qualitative discussion of protections
provided under the Sustainable Fisheries Act and the Magnuson-Stevens
Fishery Conservation and Management Act. Under the Magnuson-Stevens
Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act), the
eight Regional Fishery Management Councils are responsible for
preparing arid submitting for review all new FMPs, and amendments to
existing FMPs. The National Marine Fisheries Service, for the Secretary
of Commerce, reviews these submissions for consistency with the
Magnuson-Stevens Act and all other applicable laws and implements them
through Federal regulations.
Currently, five approved FMPs directly manage shallow reef corals
or reef fish species and associated reef habitats in the Caribbean,
Gulf of Mexico, and the South Atlantic regions. A sixth is nearing
completion for the Western Pacific. Many other FMPs contain measures to
manage fisheries for reef-associated fishes and invertebrates.
Under the provisions of the Sustainable Fisheries Act of 1996
(SFA), which made significant amendments to the Fishery Conservation
and Management Act and renamed it the Magnuson-Stevens Act (Magnuson-
Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act), the Councils must
further amend all of their FMPs to add new provisions, including those
related to Essential Fish Habitat (EFH), bycatch, effects of fishing on
habitat, and prevention of overfishing and rebuilding of overfished
resources. Measures in place or under review to protect corals and
associated fisheries are described below.
Protections Under the Provisions of the SFA Essential Fish Habitat
Four Councils (Western Pacific, Gulf of Mexico, South Atlantic,
Caribbean) have identified the coral reefs within their areas of
jurisdiction to be EFH. This means that these coral reefs have been
determined by the Councils to be essential to some portion of the life
of federally managed fisheries species. The Magnuson-Stevens Act also
requires each Federal agency to consult with the Secretary of Commerce
regarding any action (authorized, funded, undertaken, or proposed to be
so) that may adversely affect EFH. In this consultation process, the
Councils may comment on the impacts of such actions on EFH for their
managed species. Under this consultation process, the Secretary is to
recommend to the involved Federal agency any measures that can be taken
by the agency to prevent adverse impacts on and to conserve the subject
EFH. NMFS anticipates considerable input by all the Councils in
advising on ways to conserve coral resources. (In this sense, 100% of
U.S. coral reefs are ``protected'' under fishery management plans,
although the level and effectiveness of protection will depend on the
outcome of actual consultations).
Fishery Management Plans that Protect Coral Reefs and Coral Reef
Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council
Reef Fish--A moratorium and limited entry system for permits and
restrictive quotas control fishing pressure on these stocks and on
their coral reef habitat. Fish traps, roller trawls, and powerhead-
equipped spear guns are prohibited in an inshore stressed area, also
protecting coral reefs. Riley's Hump, a coral reef near Dry Tortugas,
Florida, is closed to all fishing to protect mutton snapper spawning
aggregations during May and June, as well as other reef resources. In
March 1997, a 10-year phase out of the fish trap fishery was begun, in
part to minimize impacts on coral resources.
Coral and Coral Reefs--Regulations implementing the FMP prohibit
the harvest of stony corals, hydrocorals, black corals, and two species
of octocorals, A permit system has been developed for live rock
aquaculture to provide an alternative to wild live rock harvest,
(Aquacultured live rock is considered an environmentally preferable
alternative to continued harvest of wild live rock). Habitat Areas of
Particular Concern (HAPCs) were established on the Florida Middle
Grounds and the East and West Flower Garden Banks (off Texas). No
bottom fishing gear that might damage coral resources are allowed in
Shrimp Fishery--A cooperative Tortugas Shrimp Sanctuary has been
established with the State of Florida to close a trawling area where
small pink shrimp comprise most of the population. The closure also
protects coral reefs and associated habitat. Turtle Excluder Devices
(TEDs) are required in shrimp trawls to prevent sea turtle
entanglement. In addition, bycatch of juvenile red snapper in shrimp
trawls is a major problem in reef fish management. Regulations now
require the use of Bycatch Reduction Devices (BRDs) in shrimp trawls.
Stone Crab Fishery--This fishery has more participants and stone
crab traps than are necessary to harvest the optimum yield from the
fishery. Since additional fishing effort could lead to increased
conservation risks for the stock and habitat damages from the traps,
Florida and the Council are developing a limited entry program for
adoption in State and Federal waters off Florida.
South Atlantic Fishery Management Council
Snapper/Grouper Fishery--Most fish traps, entanglement nets, and
longlines have been eliminated to address overfishing and habitat
damage. To further prevent overfishing and overcapitalization, the
Council has adopted limits on participation and fishing effort.
Shrimp Fishery--Regulations are in effect to limit the impact of
the rock shrimp trawl fishery on essential bottom habitat; no trawling
is allowed in the Oculina Bank Experimental Closed Area off east
central Florida. To minimize adverse impacts on non-target marine
resources, the Council has implemented a requirement for bycatch
reduction devices (BRDs) in all shrimp trawls.
Coral, Coral Reefs, and Live/Hard Bottom Habitat--To protect ivory
tree coral, Oculina varicosa, no fishing for snapper/grouper species
and no anchoring of fishing vessels is allowed in the Oculina Bank
Experimental Closed Area. Regulations implementing the FMP prohibit the
harvest of stony corals, hydrocorals, black corals, and two species of
octocorals, but allow a limited harvest of certain other octocorals
under quota for use in aquaria (a quota of 50,000 colonies per year is
strictly enforced). Harvest of hard corals and live rock is prohibited;
permits are available for the culture of live rock in Federal waters.
Golden Crab Fishery--This FMP is designed to prevent potential
overfishing of this resource by limiting fishing effort (and to reduce
any impacts on habitat, including coral reefs).
Joint Gulf of Mexico/South Atlantic Council FMPs
Spiny Lobster Fishery - A minimum size protects spawning potential,
and gear restrictions are in place to protect female lobsters carrying
eggs and reduce the amount of lost or ``ghost'' traps that may continue
to fish for lobsters and finfish.
Caribbean Fishery Management Council
Spiny Lobster Fishery--This fishery is part of a multispecies trap
fishery, which includes shallow-water reef fish. A minimum size was
established for spiny lobster to protect spawning potential. Gear
restrictions are in place to protect female lobsters carrying eggs and
reduce the amount of lost or ``ghost'' traps that may continue to fish
for lobsters and finfish.
Queen Conch Resources--The FMP includes 13 species of edible
gastropods. The multispecies dive fishery also includes spiny lobsters,
octopuses, and reef fish. To protect the queen conch resource, size
limits, harvest limits, a closed season, and gear restrictions are in
Reef Fish Fishery--Consisting of approximately 140 species, this
fishery is managed primarily by seasonal area closures to protect
spawning aggregations, and through gear restrictions. The Council is
considering further gear restrictions and a trap reduction program. No
harvest of Nassau grouper, jewfish, seahorses, or certain species of
butterflyfish is allowed.
Corals and Reef Associated Plants and Invertebrates of Puerto Rico
and the U.S. Virgin Islands--Harvest of hard corals, soft corals
(octocorals), and live rock is prohibited. In addition to corals, the
FMP covers live rock arid invertebrates associated with coral reefs in
the U.S. Caribbean, as well as seagrasses and algae. Gear restrictions
are placed on the taking of other invertebrates to protect coral reefs
from physical and chemical damage. The FMP also includes seagrasses,
which are essential fish habitat for a number of important commercial
and recreational species, including queen conch. Also, the Council has
submitted an amendment that would prohibit all fishing and all
anchoring by fishing vessels to totally protect reef resources in a
marine protected area off St. Thomas (Hind Bank).
Western Pacific Fishery Management Council
Bottomfish and Seamount Groundfish Fisheries--A limited entry
system is in place for the Northwest Hawaiian Islands. Fishing is
restricted to hook and line gear. Measures are in place to protect
selected snappers and a small number of other reef fishes.
Crustaceans Fisheries--The fishery has two components: a limited
entry fishery in the Northwest Hawaiian Islands, and a general fishery
in the Main Hawaiian Islands and elsewhere in the Western Pacific. The
allowed gear is lobster traps or hand harvest in Hawaii, with spearing
allowed elsewhere in the Western Pacific. Closed areas protect habitat
used by endangered monk seals and offer protection to habitat. The
limited entry system and harvest guidelines place upper limits on the
amount of fishing effort expended on lobster and associated damage to
Precious Corals Fisheries--This FMP regulates fishing for precious
corals occurring from 30-1,500 m. Fishing is allowed using either
selective gear (hand or remotely operated vehicle) or nonselective gear
(tangle nets). The regulations established one protected coral bed
devoted to research only. The only area where precious coral fishing is
currently being contemplated, Makapu'u bed off Hawaii, is restricted to
selective gear only. The yield allowed from a bed harvested using
nonselective gear is only one fifth of the yield allowed when selective
gear is used. The Council is considering prohibiting the use of
nonselective gear in all areas.
Coral Reef Ecosystem Management Plan (Under Development)--The
Council is proposing to define ``coral reef ecosystem'' as those
species, habitat, and other natural resources associated with benthic
strata from 0 to 100 m.; ``coral reef resources'' would be defined as
currently or potentially exploitable natural resources in coral reef
ecosystems. The overall coral reef habitat under the jurisdiction of
the Council is estimated to be 10,762 square km (less than 100 m
depth). NMFS expects the completed plan to provide specific measures to
protect coral reefs from adverse effects of fishing, including
restrictions or prohibitions of particular gear, as determined to be
practicable. The development team expects to submit the plan to the
Council for review by the end of 1999.
Additional Protections Offered Through Area Closures
The Councils and NMFS are moving in the direction of using closed
areas as a management tool for fishery management.
In the South Atlantic, Caribbean, and Gulf of Mexico regions there
are several Habitat Areas of Particular Concern (HAPCs), areas that
have been recognized as significant or critical to spawning, nursery,
and feeding functions, or refuge. Additionally, there are many seasonal
area closures (species specific).
South Atlantic Council
The Point off North Carolina, the Charleston Bump off South
Carolina, and the Oculina Banks off the east coast of Florida are good
examples of areas that are extremely productive in the SA that have
been established as HAPCS. Only the Oculina HAPC has additional
management measures to protect it. Furthermore, the recent South
Atlantic Comprehensive EFH Amendment included a proposed rule to expand
the area, in order to further protect (specifically from fishery-
related impacts; i.e. scallop trawling/dredging) this delicate habitat
area. There are 29 Special Management Zones (SMZs)--artificial reef
areas--in the South Atlantic (mostly in SC) where commercial gear is
prohibited (in most).
The Caribbean Council identified the Tourmaline Bank, Bajo de Cico,
Abrir La Sierra Bank, and areas east of St. Croix and south of St.
Thomas as areas significant to Red Hind spawning aggregations, and thus
established area closures from Dec. 1--Feb. 28. There is also a mutton
snapper spawning aggregation closure from March 1--June 30. Recently,
the Council has proposed a ``no-take'' marine reserve off St. Thomas,
USVI, to protect coral habitat and declining reef fish stocks. This
proposal is under Secretarial review and is expected to be implemented
later this year.
Gulf of Mexico Council
The Gulf of Mexico Council has established the Florida Middle
Ground as an HAPC, prohibiting bottom longline, trawls, pots and traps,
and dredges year-round. Furthermore, there are several seasonal
closures for shrimp trawling. There is a spawning aggregation closure
for Mutton Snapper and other species on Riley's Hump off the Dry
The Gulf Council recently proposed the closure of a large area off
the west central coast of Florida (about 422 square nautical miles) to
all reef fish fishing to protect spawning aggregations of gag grouper,
a species that is approaching an overfished condition. This live hard-
bottom area, the Florida Middle Ground, contains extremely diverse
coral communities, with unique floral and faunal assemblages. Thirteen
species of octocorals and 15 species of scleractinian reef-building
corals have been documented from this area.
Western Pacific Council
Longline fishing is prohibited in three areas to prevent conflicts
between operators of longline, troll and handline vessels, and to
prevent the incidental take of protected species: Year around closure
in the EEZ around Guam, and seasonal closures around longline protected
species zones in the Western Hawaiian islands and the Main Hawaiian
Islands. Year-round and season closures to lobster fishing are used to
provide a refuge for spawning lobsters and to protect the spawning
biomass of lobsters. Fishing is prohibited the year-round in the
Hancock Seamount fisheries to restore depleted groundfish stocks.
Fishing for coral in the Westpac Precious Coral Bed is prohibited to
preserve this coral bed as a natural area to be used for baseline
studies and reproductive reserve.
Question 8. Given that reefs are predominantly found in State waters,
would the Administration support the establishment of a partnership
between the Federal government and State and local entities where each
party pays a balanced share of the cost of conservation measures?
Please explain in detail.
Answer. Current estimates indicate that only about one-third of all
U.S. coral reefs are found in state or territorial waters (within 0 to
3 miles from shore) . However, these reefs may represent some of the
most heavily utilized and impacted reefs within U.S. waters due to
their proximity to increasing coastal populations and urban areas. With
growing pressures on these reefs, it is critical to build partnerships
among government and nongovernment entities at federal, state and local
levels to implement effective actions for long-term conservation and
A number of partnerships among federal, state and local entities
already exist and have begun to address coral reef conservation issues,
but additional funding and other resources are needed to ensure long-
term survival of near-shore reef resources. The Department of Commerce,
the Department of the Interior and other federal agencies strongly
support the use of existing partnerships with state end local entities
for coral reef conservation, and the establishment of new Partnerships
As discussed in response to Question 3, NOAA believes that cost
sharing among project partners is an important way to leverage
resources and build support for conservation projects. NOAA supports
the continuation and establishment of partnerships between the Federal
government and State and local entities where each party pays a share
of the cost of the conservation measures. The proportion of costs
shared by federal, state or local entities, however, should be
determined by a variety of factors and may not be the same for all
Question 9. NOAA has suggested that coral reef conservation legislation
contain a provision enabling NOAA to provide technical assistance to
State or Federal agencies with jurisdiction over coral reefs to further
the goals of such legislation. (A) Does NOAA propose to use such funds
to provide this technical assistance or would technical assistance be
provided out of base program funds? (B) What amount is needed to cover
the cost of proposed technical assistance?
Answer. (A) NOAA provides limited technical assistance for coral
conservation and management to U.S. states and territories under base
funds through programs such as the Coastal Zone Management Program, the
Sea Grant Program, and the National Centers for Coastal and Ocean
Science. However, given the scope and condition of coral resources in.
the U.S., NOAA is requesting additional funding to be able to provide
technical assistance more broadly to support national, state, and
community based coral reef conservation programs.
(B) NOAA supports the authorization levels requested in S. 1253
which dedicate a percentage of the authorized funds for technical
assistance. Full funding at the levels authorized in S. 1253 would
provide much of the technical assistance needed to support the coral
reef conservation programs at the national, state and community levels.
Question 10. (A) As a result of the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force, has
NOAA noticed a greater degree of inter-agency cooperation and
coordination in day-to-day coral reef activities? (B) Please describe
the effect of the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force on NOAA's participation in
international coral activities.
Answer. (A) NOAA has observed an increase in interagency cooperation
and coordination in some activities related to coral reefs as a result
of the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force. The Task Force is currently
developing a National Action Plan for conservation and sustainable use
of coral reefs which will help increase interagency coordination and
participation in a wide range of areas. To date, the Task Force and its
working groups have increased interagency cooperation and coordination
in several areas including mapping of coral reefs in the Caribbean,
establishment of new coral reef protected areas, and assessing the
impacts of U.S. trade in coral reef species.
(B) The U.S. Coral Reef Task Force has supported NOAA's
participation in international activities related to coral reefs. For
example, NOAA has continued to develop new international partnerships
for monitoring of coral reef bleaching and to report on the
relationship between changes in ocean climate and coral reef health
worldwide. The Task Force has helped increase NOAA's participation with
other federal agencies in efforts to support coral reef conservation
and sustainable use in other nations. NOAA is working with the Task
Force to highlight the need to strengthen international collaboration
and support for the global coral reef monitoring network as well as
building capacity to manage coastal resources, and in particular,
promote effective management of tropical marine protected areas.
Question 11. You stated in your testimony that you wish to work with
the Committee on a provision that would fully address the problem of
preventing and removing abandoned vessels that have been grounded on
(A) Please outline the scope of the problem, including an
approximation of the number of vessels abandoned on U.S. reefs each
year and the extent of the damage incurred by these vessels.
(B) Please provide for the record a list of examples where both
U.S. and foreign-flag vessels have been grounded and abandoned on a
reef. Please include instances where the vessel owner has declared
bankruptcy and subsequently operated additional vessels without paying
for the damages incurred by the grounded vessel.
(C) Does the Administration support addressing these cases in coral
reef legislation? If so, please explain what measures would be most
effective and whether such measures would be a high priority for the
Answer. Grounded and abandoned ships can have significant impacts on
coral reefs. Vessel groundings can cut large grooves in the reef,
reduce parts of the reef to rubble, expose reefs to serious erosion and
further damage, and change the distribution of fish and other coral
reef species. Grounded vessels carry a wide variety of hazardous
materials that can also cause serious damage if released from the
vessel. And if grounded vessels or their wreckage is not removed they
can continue to damage the coral reef and slow recovery as they are
moved along the reef by waves and storms.
(A) NOAA, the National Park Service, the U.S. Coast Guard, the
states of Hawaii and Florida, and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico
annually report a significant number of vessel groundings affecting
coral reefs. For example, in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary
alone, over 250 vessel groundings on coral reefs are reported each
year. Similarly, in Biscayne National Park, over 150 vessel groundings
are reported annually. While groundings of commercial vessels are
required to be reported and are usually recorded, there is no
requirement for recreational vessels to report accidental groundings,
unless they result in over $500 in damage. Consequently, the record of
groundings on U.S. coral reefs is incomplete. NOAA is currently working
with the U.S. Coast Guard and other agencies through the
Administration's Coral Reef Task Force to identify the number of
vessels that have been abandoned on U.S. coral reefs. To date the U.S.
Coast Guard has identified 11 vessels abandoned on U.S. coral reefs
since 1992 when the Coast Guard began keeping track of abandoned
vessels following enactment of the Abandoned Barge Act. Of these
grounding incidents on coral reefs, 9 resulted in the use of existing
federal pollution funds (e.g., the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund) to
help with clean-up costs. In some of these cases, partial reimbursement
was made for some of the clean-up costs.
(B) NOAA is involved with several coral reef restoration projects
involving grounded and abandoned foreign-flag vessels. Examples
The 1991 groundings of nine foreign-owned longline
fishing vessels on the reefs in Pago Pago Harbor, American
Samoa. The U.S. Coast Guard and Government of American Samoa
have not been able to identify a viable responsible party to
pay for vessel removal and natural resource restoration. Thus,
the vessels have remained on the reefs, continuing to cause
The October 1993 grounding of the Taiwanese longliner
Jin Shiang Fa on Rose Atoll, a National Wildlife Refuge in the
South Pacific. Salvage operations removed some of the larger
pieces of wreckage and debris, but the salvage crew did not
move the stern and its associated debris, or the engine block.
Years after the event, the reef shows only limited recovery.
This case was referred to the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ)
for recovery of oil spill response costs from the vessel owner.
After an initial investigation, DoJ concluded that it would be
very difficult to pursue a response recovery action under U.S.
law and decided not to pursue legal action.
The 1998 grounding of the M/V Paradise Queen II, a
longline fishing vessel, on Kure Atoll in Hawaii. While the
vessel insurer was able to pay for some salvage, the boat
remains grounded on the reef. The vessel was considered a total
loss by the marine insurer, and we are not aware of any plans
by the owner to remove the vessel. Although S. 1253 does not
have a definition of ``abandoned,'' under general admiralty
principles and Coast Guard policy directives, the vessel can
probably be considered to be abandoned.
We are consulting with the Coast Guard on the instances where the
vessel owner has declared bankruptcy and subsequently operated
additional vessels without paying for the damages incurred by the
grounded vessel. At this time it appears that the current system is
unable to easily track grounded or abandoned vessels and subsequent
bankruptcies and additional vessel licenses. Implementation of Section
8 of S. 1253 or other measures to address these issues may require
changes to how agencies track and monitor these situations.
(C) The primary impediment to removing abandoned vessels that
affect coral reefs is the lack of resources to fund the costs of
salvage, which can be high, particularly when ships are in remote areas
of the Pacific. A second impediment is the potential lack of a
liability mechanism for Federal or State agencies to seek recovery of
costs and damages when a ship runs aground in a non protected area
(e.g. outside a National Marine Sanctuary or National Park), is not an
obstruction to navigation, or does not pose a threat of oil pollution
or hazardous waste discharge. In cases where agencies do have authority
to seek damages, there are instances where the vessel owner has
declared bankruptcy or is otherwise unable to he identified. As stated
in NOAA's testimony, we support the measures in S. 1253 and are
prepared to work with the Committee on any additional provisions to
more fully address these issues. As stated in part B above, it appears
that the Coast Guard is currently unable to easily track grounded or
abandoned vessels and subsequent bankruptcies and additional vessel
licenses. Effective implementation of Section 8 of S. 1253 or other
measures to address these issues may require changes as to how agencies
track and monitor these situations.
Response to Written Questions Submitted by Hon. Olympia J. Snowe to
Question 1. Throughout the history of the Marine Sanctuaries Program,
it appears that funding priorities have been largely focused on
expansion efforts. The costs associated with the designation process
and other expansion related efforts are substantial. Other than the
Thunder Bay Sanctuary in Michigan, does NOAA intend to spend any money
in fiscal years 2000-2004 on expanding the sanctuary system, including
the development of a site selection protocol? Please explain.
Answer. With the completion of the Thunder Bay National Marine
Sanctuary, NOAA has no plans for designation of new sites in the
foreseeable future. At this time, the National Marine Sanctuary (NMS)
program is focusing its resources on developing and improving the
operational capacity of existing sites. This includes developing core
staffing, better implementation of site specific management plans,
including research, education and resource protection programs, and
continuing the five-year management plan reviews. Therefore, given
current and anticipated funding levels, NOAA is not planning to expand
the sanctuary system in fiscal years 2000-2004. If NOAA receives the
full Administration request for Sanctuary Program funding in FY00, we
will begin development of a carefully considered, science-based process
to work with coastal communities, states and other stakeholders to
identify and evaluate potential sites.
Question 2. The Administration's bill focuses on the importance of
ecosystem protection. However, none of the Administration's suggested
changes highlight the importance of compatible commercial uses, such as
fishing in marine sanctuaries. Please explain in detail how the
Administration's bill enhances the goal of balancing compatible uses
with resource protection.
Answer. The primary purpose of the National Marine Sanctuary Act (NMSA)
is resource protection and NOAA's priority is to achieve this mandate.
However, the NMSA also provides that uses that are compatible with the
primary purpose of the NMSA should be allowed within sanctuaries. The
Administration's bill does not change the goal of allowing all public
and private uses compatible with resource protection, but supports and
clarifies the resource protection mandate and the focus on ecosystem
management. The clarification will help improve sanctuary management
and provide clearer guidance on assessing whether uses are compatible
with resource protection. The resulting emphasis on ecosystem
protection also acknowledges the Administration's position, articulated
at the National Ocean Conference, to further the nation's marine
ecosystem protection efforts and the worldwide focus on oceans
following the United Nation's designation of the ``Year of the Ocean.''
During the designation process for a site, activities that are
harmful to sanctuary resources are identified and regulations are
developed in a public process, as appropriate, to prohibit or restrict
a narrow range of activities to protect sanctuary resources. Even these
restricted activities may be conducted under the conditions of a
sanctuary permit. There are many compatible uses that are currently
allowed within National Marine Sanctuaries, including: swimming, SCUBA
diving, boating, commercial and recreational fishing, and research
Question 3. Around the nation, NOAA has not made clear to the public
the purpose of marine sanctuaries. Because of this, some people have
raised concerns that marine sanctuaries are established solely for the
purpose of resource protection. Please explain in detail the role that
the proposed educational facilities will play in improving the general
understanding of compatible uses in marine sanctuaries.
Answer. Due to the remote location of many of NOAA's National Marine
Sanctuaries (NMS), easily accessible interpretive facilities are needed
to educate the public about the importance of the marine environment
and these special protected areas. NOAA's proposed interpretive
facilities for NMS will be designed to educate the public on the
understanding and protection of marine resources and biodiversity and
the unique role of NMS. Through education NOAA hopes to make the public
better stewards of our nation's precious marine resources. An important
component of the full understanding of the marine environment is an
understanding of how human uses affect the marine environment and how
they can be compatible with resource protection. By educating the
public on the effects of different activities, NOAA hopes to inform the
public on how individual activities may affect the marine environment
and how they can change their own behavior to become better stewards.
In addition, we hope to educate the public on the role of NMS and how
NOAA manages multiple uses, through regulations, zoning, and permitting
to allow many uses and ensure their compatibility with the primary
mandate of resource protection. Through these education initiatives at
strategically placed interpretive centers, NOAA will educate the public
on the importance of their local marine sanctuaries and the
preservation of the marine environment.
Question 4. Enforcement in marine sanctuaries appears to be a nation-
wide problem. In many sanctuaries, the employees do not enforce the
National Marine Sanctuaries Act. Rather, enforcement responsibilities
are conducted through partnerships with authorized officers of the
state marine patrols and enforcement personnel at the National Marine
Fisheries Service. (A) How much money does the Administration propose
to spend on enforcement of the National Marine Sanctuaries Act in FY
Answer: There are more people using the sanctuaries than ever before.
With the increased demands to protect these valuable sanctuary
resources, there are now insufficient funds available for NOAA or its
enforcement partners to enforce effectively the NMSA and its
implementing regulations Therefore, enforcement is an important program
objective for the Marine Sanctuaries Division in FY 2000. A total
dollar figure is being developed, as the individual sanctuary field
sites are currently developing their annual operating plans and site
budgets, which will address this priority objective. During FY 1999,
the site budgets dedicated exclusively to enforcement ranged from $0 to
$500,000, with a total system expenditure of $586,000. These costs are
for specific needs, such as paying for Florida Marine Patrol staff
($500K) or installing radar on a local Navy tower in Gray's Reef
($10K). The proposed spending only includes the funds expended by the
NMS system itself and does not include the contributions made by our
partners in enforcement. Most of the enforcement costs at individual
sanctuary sites are staff time, which is not specifically tracked or
accounted, but is significant. In addition, NOAA contributes staff time
to enforcement at headquarters, as well as staff hours within the NOAA
Office for Law Enforcement and the NOAA Office of General Counsel for
Enforcement and Litigation (GCEL). Although not specifically tracked,
it is estimated that in FY 1999 this staff time was worth more than
$500,000. (See also the response to question 4(B) below.)
Question 4. (B) In the Administration's FY 2000 budget request, the
Administration proposes a $12 million increase in the National Marine
Sanctuaries budget. Is any of the $12 million increase dedicated to
enforcement, including the development and implementation of
enforcement partnerships? If so, how much?
Answer: As discussed in the answer to question 4 (C), NOAA has many
partnerships it uses to conduct enforcement activities. If the Congress
funds the full amount of the Administration's proposed budget for
National Marine Sanctuaries, the Marine Sanctuaries Division (MSD) has
planned to augment these partnerships by dedicating up to $400,000 to a
pilot project with the NOAA Office for Law Enforcement (OLE). This will
fund NOAA uniformed officers and/or special agents dedicated solely to
sanctuary enforcement at one or two sites. The pilot effort will
establish a process for effectively using NOAA enforcement personnel to
enforce sanctuary regulations in the future. MSD and OLE have recently
begun work to develop a multi-year enforcement strategy for the
Sanctuary Program, which will incorporate this pilot effort, and
identity enforcement needs, priorities, approaches and funding
requirements. In addition, individual sanctuary sites may boost the
amount of their site budgets dedicated to enforcement (see response to
Question 4. (C) As you know, NMFS personnel are responsible for
enforcing the Magnuson-Stevens Fisheries Conservation and Management
Act, the Marine Mammal Protection Act and other laws administered by
NMFS. According to NMFS, 171 enforcement officers are employed by NMFS.
It seems unlikely that NMFS personnel have the ability to make a real
difference in the enforcement of marine sanctuaries regulations. In
addition, partnerships between the states and marine sanctuaries only
exist in two instances. Please explain in detail who is conducting
enforcement activities at each of the sanctuaries, plans at each site
to enhance current enforcement activities, and unmet enforcement needs
at each sanctuary.
Answer. National Marine Sanctuary Program personnel are not authorized
enforcement officers. The program relies upon the NOAA Office for Law
Enforcement (OLE), the official enforcement arm of NOAA, for sanctuary
enforcement. OLE is responsible for enforcement of the National Marine
Sanctuaries Act (NMSA), as well as the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery
Conservation and Management Act, Marine Mammal Protection Act, and
other laws administered by NOAA. However, OLE receives no direct
appropriation to support NMSA enforcement as it does for these other
NOAA statutes. At its current funding and staffing levels, OLE can only
provide limited support to the sanctuaries. Therefore, where
appropriate, each of the sites has developed partnerships with the
Coast Guard, other Federal enforcement agencies, and/or with the
states, through memoranda of agreement and. cross-deputization with
NOAA. As one of our principle enforcement partners, the Coast Guard
dedicates cutter, aircraft, and small boat hours as able to marine
sanctuary enforcement. Below is a table of the enforcement partnerships
and an initial needs assessment for each individual site. As discussed
in the response to question 4(B), MSD and OLE are developing a multi-
year strategy for enhancing enforcement efforts for the Program.
NATIONAL MARINE SANCTUARY ENFORCEMENT
Sanctuary Site Partners Issues
Stellwagen Bank, MA Coast Guard/ CG Aux. seasonal site use,
linked to other NOAA
marine mammals, trash/
Monitor, NC Coast Guard w/ routine fishing gear damage,
patrols looting; remote
Gray's Reef, GA Coast Guard, CG Aux. w/ seasonal site use,
overflights; radar on linked to overall
Navy tower NOAA fisheries issues/
Florida Keys Coast Guard, Florida heavily used site,
Marine Patrol numerous groundings;
also poaching, Area
to Be Avoided, idle
speed only, marine
Flower Garden Banks, TX/ Coast Guard (routine remote location;
LA overflights & anchoring on coral,
emergency response) fishing gear damage
Channel Islands, CA Coast Guard & CA Fish & discharge & boating
undetermined level of
Monterey Bay, CA Coast Guard & CA Fish & overflight zones,
Game, CA Parks as seabed alteration,
avail. discharge, personal
mammal & seabird
undetermined level of
Gulf of Farallones and CA Coast Guard, CA Fish overflights,
Cordell Bank & Game discharges, jet skis
Olympic Coast, WA Coast Guard, National site use low, remote
Park Service (DOI) location; shipping,
Hawaiian Islands Coast Guard and Navy whale approach, linked
Humpback Whale (through OLE) to other NOAA
seasonal but need
Fagatele Bay, American Dept. of Marine & undetermined level of
Samoa Wildlife Resources violations, nighttime
Question 5. The Administration's bill would create new criminal
penalties for interfering with the enforcement of the National Marine
Sanctuaries Act and allow authorized officers to arrest persons who
commit such prohibited acts. This is a significant expansion of
enforcement authority under the National Marine Sanctuaries Act. Please
explain in detail how creating new criminal sanctions will affect the
enforcement problems that currently exist in marine sanctuaries.
Answer. The Administration's bill addresses shortcomings in the current
NMSA, thereby improving NOAA's ability to enforce the NMSA and it's
implementing regulations. The addition of criminal sanctions extends
only to interference with law enforcement, leaving the majority of
prohibitions to be handled by the appropriate civil penalty system. The
agency has learned through experience that there is a need to have
criminal sanctions to adequately address the types of acts which might
be carried out against our employees and cooperating agency staff in
the course of their investigative efforts. As with any law enforcement
efforts, in the course of conducting investigations under the NMSA,
authorized officers may be seriously interfered with, threatened or
Criminal sanctions for interference with law enforcement are
contained in the other statutes that NOAA enforces (Magnuson-Stevens
Fishery Conservation and Management Act, Marine Mammal Protection Act,
Endangered Species Act). The absence of such sanctions in the NMSA
stands out among all the statutes under NOAA's authority for failing to
provide such protections to our emp1oyees without an apparent
justification for doing so. By bringing the NMSA into conformity with
the other statutes that NOAA enforces, NOAA enforcement agents are
always working under the same guidelines.
June 30, 1999
Chair Snowe and Distinguished Committee Members
This testimony was prepared by Dave Raney, a volunteer member of
the Sierra Club's National Marine Wildlife and Habitat Committee. Mr.
Raney, a resident of Hawaii, heads the Club's Coral Reef Working Group.
He was also appointed by the Secretaries of the Interior and Commerce
to serve as the Pacific Non-Government Organization Representative to
the United States Coral Reef Task Force:
Thank you for the opportunity to present our ideas on this bill,
which we support. We note that this bill contains similar provisions to
S. 725, which we also support. In comparing the two bills, we find that
S. 1253 contains additional provisions, with a commensurate higher
level of funding, which we consider necessary to adequately support the
wide range of activities required to fulfill the mandate of the U.S.
Coral Reef Task Force.
The U.S. Coral Reef Initiative, begun several years ago, and the
U.S. Coral Reef Task Force created last year under Executive Order
13089, have raised awareness of the precarious state of coral reefs
globally, and within U.S. jurisdictions, and have stimulated the
creation of local coral reef intitiatives. From the beginning, a
``bottoms up'' approach to coral reef initiatives has been encouraged
by the federal agencies. Up to now, however, relatively little funding
for coral reef conservation has gone to community or non-governmental
organizations actually operating at the grassroots level. Also, recent
actions by the Senate appear to have eliminated much of the funding
required by NOAA for projects directly related to coral reefs. S. 1253
would restore such funding.
Both bills recognize the importance of supporting community-based
coral reef conservation projects, and provide mechanisms for doing so.
We especially appreciate provisions tor waiving matching requirements
for small projects (under $25,000), and for recognizing in-kind
services and other noncash support to help meet matching requirements.
We note that S. 1253 allows for a matching level of federal funds not
to exceed 75% of the total project costs, as opposed to a maximum of
50% in S. 725, We would prefer the higher federal match of S. 1253,
noting that community groups usually have more enthusiasm than cash.
We agree with the findings in Section 2 (10) of this bill, which
state the desirability of legislation solely dedicated to the
comprehensive and coordinated conservation, management protection and
restoration of coral reefs and coral reef ecosystems, incorporating
Executive Order 13089. House Concurrent Resolution 8, and the relevant
federal, state, and territorial programs. We also find the Policy
Section to be a valuable provision.
Sections 8 and 9 of the bill appear to address concerns raised by
Hawaii and American Samoa over the problem of abandoned vessels,
specifically including the nine vessels in Pago Pago harbor which have
been an eyesore and environmental problem for years. It is heartening
to see this kind of specitic action in response to needs which have
been expressed by the states and territories.
In conclusion, we greatly appreciate the concern for coral reef
conservation and protection, and support for community-based coral reef
conservation projects, which bills S. 1253 and S. 725 address. We would
like to see the good features of both bills adopted, including the
comprehensive measures and funding levels of S. 1253.
Prepared Statement of Stephen Colwell, Executive Director of the Coral
Reef Alliance (CORAL), Director of the International Coral Reef Action
Network (ICRAN) Public Awareness Program, and Member of the
International Coral Reef Initiative (ICRI) Coordinating and Planning
Chair Snowe and Distinguished Committee Members:
Thank you for the opportunity to present our ideas on S. 1253,
which we strongly support. The Coral Reef Alliance (CORAL) is a member-
supported, non-profit that works with divers, snorkelers and the dive-
tourism industry to promote coral reef conservation. This is a much
larger and more widespread constituency than you might imagine. There
are over 6 million certified SCUBA divers and over 35 million
snorkelers in the U.S. from all 50 states. What is the #1 vacation
destination for these divers and snorkelers? Coral reefs. Reported
annual dive-tourism industry receipts related to coral reef tourism
(including equipment, services and travel) approach $2 billion
annually. The dive-tourism industry also employs tens of thousands of
workers--many of whom live thousands of miles from the nearest coral
Therefore, coral reef conservation is not just an ``environmental''
issue, it is an important business issue. Leaders of the dive-tourism
industry now recognize that a healthy industry depends on healthy coral
reefs. The Dive Equipment and Marketing Association (DEMA)--the dive
industry's trade organization--has recently added environmental
conservation as part of their industrywide platform for growing the
Given the economic impact of the dive-tourism, the investment in
coral reef conservation represented by S. 1253, would make good
business sense even if coral reefs did not have such an important role
to play in maintaining marine biological diversity, providing
recreational and commercial fishing, and protecting shorelines from
excessive wave action and flooding.
Years of experience in coral reef conservation has demonstrated
that effective conservation comes only with effective partnership among
many stakeholders. Government and non-governmental organizations each
have important roles to play. S. 1253 recognizes the need for this
partnership and provides the full funding NOAA needs to carry out its
role, while simultaneously creating a source of funds for the
community-based coral reef conservation projects, public awareness
campaigns and other smaller conservation initiatives that have proven
to be effective and cost-efficient.
In conclusion, we strongly support the commitment to coral reef
conservation and protection represented by S. 1253. CORAL also supports
S. 725, but the higher level of funding represented by S. 1253 does
promise more comprehensive protection. Recent reports (see e.g., the
World Resources Institute's Reef at Risk Report and the Conclusions of
the 1999 National Coral Reef Institute Conference) dramatically
demonstrate the need for speedy action if we are to be able to reverse
the tide of destruction facing coral reefs. S. 1253 and S. 725 provide
proof of the commitment of the United States to coral reefs and to the
millions of U.S. citizens that depend upon healthy coral reefs for
their employment, income and recreation.
Thank you for your attention.
CORAL -The Coral Reef Alliance
June 25, 1999
Joint Prepared Statement from The Center for Marine Conservation, The
Marine Conservation Biology Institute, American Oceans Campaign, The
Environmental Defense Fund and World Willife Fund, on National
Marine Sanctuaries and Coral Reefs
Madam Chairwoman, and Members of the Subcommittee, the Center for
Marine Conservation (CMC), the Marine Conservation Biology Institute
(MCBI), American Oceans Campaign (AOC), the Environmental Defense Fund
(EDF) and World Wildlife Fund (WWF) are providing this statement to be
inserted into the June 30, 1999, hearing record on National Marine
Sanctuaries and Coral Reefs. We would like to take the opportunity to
thank the Chairwoman and Members of the Subcommittee for their work on
these very important issues.
We commend the sponsors of the Coral Reef Conservation Act of 1999
(S. 725) and the Coral Reef Protection Act of 1999 (S. 1253). It is
becoming increasingly clear that our oceans and coastal areas contain
irreplaceable resources that benefit all of us. Although increased
attention has been given to the oceans vast resources over the last
several years, more needs to be done. S. 725 and S. 1253 both provide
important opportunities to conserve and protect coral reefs. We look
forward to similar bipartisan support for reauthorization of the
National Marine Sanctuary Act.
Our organizations share the desire to see the National Marines
Sanctuary Act reauthorized this Congress and to have additional
conservation efforts directed at coral reefs. Our testimony will cover
coral reefs and sanctuaries generally and then the Senate legislation
dealing with these issues.
Established in 1972, the National Marine Sanctuary Program provides
one of the best tools for protecting and preserving marine resources in
special areas of our ocean and coastal waters. The Sanctuary Program
encompasses more than 18,000 square miles and includes 12 sites
stretching from New England to the Hawaiian Islands and beyond. Twenty
seven years after the creation of the National Marine Sanctuary
Program, we believe that, while it has achieved considerable success,
it has not lived up to its enormous potential or fulfilled its mandate
to protect and restore special marine areas.
In establishing the National Marine Sanctuary Program, Congress
created a tremendous program with great potential for conserving and
protecting this Nation's outstanding marine resources. Our
organizations remain committed to seeing the program reach that
potential and believe that there is now an unprecedented opportunity to
make it happen. The five prior reauthorizations have helped strengthen
and solidify the statute and we do not believe that major modifications
are necessary during this reauthorization. However, we believe some
fine-tuning could assist the program in reaching its potential, and
feel strongly that adequate funding is essential for improving the
The biggest obstacle to the National Marine Sanctuary Program
achieving its legislative mandate has been an inadequate level of
funding. Almost ten years ago, an independent, external review panel
convened by the Bush Administration endorsed a funding level of $30
million as the minimum required to fund the Program at that time. Yet
in 1999, the National Marine Sanctuary Program achieved less than half
of that funding or less than $1,000 for each square mile of sanctuary,
despite the addition of six sanctuaries since 1990. Inadequate funding
has resulted in a program that is understaffed, limiting conservation,
educational and research opportunities. In addition, NOAA has fallen
behind on the reviews of sanctuary management plans. Although NOAA is
now moving forward on management plan reviews for the Stellwagen Bank,
Channel Islands and Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary, many other
plans were developed over 20 years ago and have not yet been reviewed.
These reviews are necessary to address new and changing conservation
issues such as fishing and water quality concerns.
The Administration has requested $29 million for FY 2000 and our
organizations believe that Congress should, at a minimum, fund the
program at that level, in addition, we recommend that in out years
Congress provide increases of $5 million per year starting in FY 2001.
Previously, inadequate funding has resulted in a program that is both
understaffed and capable of sustaining only a small fraction of
priority activities. No existing sanctuary has an adequate interpretive
facility or research and monitoring program. NOAA has yet to complete a
single sanctuary management plan reviews.
The $29 million proposed for FY 2000 funding includes $26M for
operations that would be adequate to provide core staffing, support
basic programs for the existing sanctuaries and continue some
management plan reviews; and $3 million to initiate limited visitor/
interpretive center projects and develop a more comprehensive
facilities plan. Additional out year funding increases are necessary to
ensure that NOAA can meet the legislative mandates of the program;
develop more than basic programs; complete its management plan reviews;
implement a comprehensive facilities plan, including development of
interpretive centers that benefit local communities; and continue to
improve the NMSP. We propose the following authorization levels for the
FISCAL YEAR PROG. OPERATIONS CONSTRUCTION TOTAL
FY2000 $26M $3M $29M
FY2001 $29M $5M $34M
FY2002 $32M $7M $39M
FY2003 $35M $9M $44M
FY2004 $39M $10M $49M
These modest increases will allow for a steady strengthening of the
NMSP and help prevent stagnation.
The existing National Marine Sanctuaries Act offers a comprehensive
approach to the conservation of special marine areas, ranging from the
coral reefs of Florida to the kelp forests of the California coast.
Since its inception and though five authorizations, Congress has
recognized comprehensive ``resource protection'' as the primary
objective of the NMSP. However, these same reauthorizations have left
this primary mandate obscurely stated in the statute. We recommend that
existing statutory language contained in the Findings, Purposes and
Policies section be consolidated to clearly state that ``the purposes
and policies of this title are to create a system of national marine
sanctuaries that provide a comprehensive approach to the conservation
of special marine areas with the primary objective of resource
COORDINATION WITH FISHERY MANAGEMENT COUNCILS
Furthermore, we agree with the National Research Council that
fishing and related extractive activities are one of the primary human
activities affecting marine ecosystems, including those contained
within marine sanctuaries. The existing statutory language that
provides the Regional Fishery Management Councils and the Secretary of
Commerce with roles in developing and evaluating such regulations
recognizes the need, in some cases, for sanctuary-specific fishing
regulations. While we do not view the current language as ideal, we
recognize that many different viewpoints went into developing this
language. We believe it represents a workable compromise that can lead
to the development of appropriate sanctuary fishing regulations that
protect sanctuary resources. The following steps would greatly enhance
the likelihood of success in the process: requiring that the Secretary
of Commerce formally request the Council's input as early as possible
in a Sanctuary designation or management review process; providing a
specific time frame within which the Council is required to respond to
this request; and requiring a finding by the Secretary on the adequacy
of the Council's response.
Marine zoning is a recent and innovative tool used to conserve
marine resources throughout the world that is receiving considerable
scientific attention and acclaim. Marine zoning focuses on preserving
and restoring intact portions of the world's oceans to ensure their
overall health and integrity while allowing compatible uses. Several
sanctuaries, including the Florida Keys. are already incorporating this
creative conservation tool in their management plans. The authority to
use this tool already clearly exists. However, we recommend that during
reauthorization, language be added to ensure that innovative management
tools, such as marine zoning, are considered in the development and
review of sanctuary management plans and applied where beneficial.
FIVE YEAR MANAGEMENT REVIEW PROCESS
The five year management review process is a critical component of
the National Marine Sanctuaries Act. Unfortunately, none of the
sanctuary management plans, some of which are more than 20 years old,
have been revised to incorporate new issues, new scientific information
or new management techniques. The public, stakeholders and local
communities deserve a periodic review of each sanctuary management plan
to make sure that it is up-to-date, relevant to current issues, and
fulfilling its purpose.
Given the significant challenges and limited resources existing
sanctuaries face and the need of these sanctuaries to fund and
implement basic activities, such as staffing and review of existing
management plans, we believe the Program's priority should be on
meeting the needs of the current sites. However, as we approach a new
millennium, we also believe that the National Marine Sanctuary Program
should be looking to the future as well. While the short-term focus
should be on current sites, the program should not be prohibited from
exploring, and when necessary, recommending additional sites.
Coral reefs are the most diverse marine ecosystem in the world.
Although they cover only one percent of the entire area of the oceans,
they have been dubbed the ``rainforests of the sea'' because of the
great variety of marine species that they support. Coral reefs are home
to roughly one-third of the known marine fish diversity and thousands
of other species. In the United States, more than 6,500 square miles of
the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans contain coral reefs. Not only are reefs
biologically valuable, they also have great economic and aesthetic
values including fisheries, diving and tourism.
Unfortunately, the health and quality of coral and coral reef
environments has been in decline over the past several decades. In
recent years coral reefs around the world have suffered significant
damage. Major anthropogenic stressors include over exploitation of the
living components of reef ecosystems, pollution and global warming.
Diseases also pose a threat to coral reefs, especially those already
affected by human disturbance.
Fortunately, however, a great deal of attention is being focused on
the plight of coral reefs in the past few years. The United Nations
declared 1997 the International Year of the Reef and an international
plan to conserve corals was developed, but has not yet been
implemented. In 1998. the United Nations Year of the Oceans, the
Clinton Administration issued Executive Order 13089, for the Protection
of Coral Reefs. E.O. 13089 requires federal agencies to use their
existing authorities to conserve and protect coral reefs and
established the Coral Reef Task Force. The Task Force has met twice
since its creation. The Task Force is working on several important
issues including mapping, protected areas, water quality and global
At the second meeting of the Task Force, the Center for Marine
Conservation hosted a workshop on the human impacts on coral reefs. The
workshop was cosponsored by the Environmental Protection Agency, the
Department of Land and Natural Resources of the State of Hawaii, the
Department of the Interior and the Department of Commerce. At the
workshop, coral reef ecologists agreed that while there was much left
to learn about coral reef biology, enough is already known to indicate
that stronger protection measures are needed. They agreed that these
systems are not well protected, making them vulnerable to large scale
commercial exploitation. Recommendations were made that significant
areas of coral reef ecosystems be set aside and protected from all
extractive activities. CMC is planning to host another workshop that
will coincide with the Task Force's next meeting this fall.
S. 725 AND S. 1253
Our organizations would like to express our appreciation and
recognize the leadership of the Members of the Subcommittee in
developing measures to improve the protections provided to coral reefs.
Both the Coral Reef Conservation Act of 1999 (S. 725) introduced by
Senator Snowe and the Coral Reef Protection Act of 1999 (S. 1253)
introduced by Senator Inouye represent positive steps forward in
addressing the need to protect and conserve coral reefs. These two
pieces of legislation represent a good framework for developing
stronger and more comprehensive coral reef legislation.
Both S. 725 and S. 1253 provide critically need new financial
resources to conserve and protect coral reefs. S. 725 would provide
$12M over a three year period while S. 1253 would provide $100M over a
five year period. Given significant declines in coral reef ecosystems
and the time necessary to reverse this trend, we prefer the funding
levels provided in S. 1253. We believe that such a significant increase
is necessary to help stem the decline of coral reefs and coral reef
ecosystems. S. 1253 also contains provisions such as a national program
allowing NOAA to provide non-competitive grants and a requirement that
the Secretary of Commerce consult with the Coral Reef Task Force on
project proposals and approvals which would provide a more
comprehensive process for restoring and conserving coral reefs.
At this time, one specific recommendation that we ask you to
consider is providing a direct role for the Department of the Interior
in the implementation of your coral reef legislation, especially for
coral reefs under their jurisdiction. DOI has significant
responsibilities related to coral reef protection including management
responsibilities for coral reefs in national parks, national wildlife
refuges and offshore of U.S. territories and possessions. Furthermore,
the Secretary of Interior is a co-chair of the National Coral Reef Task
Force that was formed to implement the Executive Order on coral reefs.
We commend the Subcommittee for its work on behalf of the National
Marine Sanctuary Program and coral reefs. We look forward to working
with you to develop legislation to reauthorize the National Marine
Sanctuary Act, as well as comprehensive legislation to protect and
conserve coral reefs.
July 7, 1999
Senator Olympia Snowe
Subcommittee on Oceans & Fisheries
Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, & Transportation
428 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
In response to your invitation to submit written testimony
following the Subcommittee on Oceans and Fisheries' hearing on Coral
Reef and Marine Sanctuary Conservation held on June 30, 1999, I submit
herewith my written testimony for the record.
Due to our unique geography and geology, Coral Reefs and National
Marine Sanctuaries are a fundamental part of everyday life in the
Florida Keys, and I want to thank you for giving me the opportunity to
express my thoughts and concerns regarding the future health of these
Your interest in the health of the reefs and marine sanctuaries is
Monroe County, Florida
Prepared Statement of Nora Williams, Monroe County Commissioner, Monroe
Madam Chairwoman, I appreciate the opportunity to submit this
testimony for the Oceans and Fisheries Subcommittee hearing on Coral
Reef and Marine Sanctuary Conservation.
Madam Chairwoman, the Florida Keys and their surrounding National
Marine Sanctuary are facing a serious environmental problem that
threatens the long-term health of the coastal waters of the Florida
Keys. Inadequate wastewater and stormwater facilities in the Keys have
led to a serious degradation of the near-shore waters in recent years,
and unless this problem is solved, our nation can look forward to
continued deterioration of water quality and the loss of a true
Natural resource protection is a matter of dollars and cents for
the Florida Keys, as our economy is dependent on the health of our
waters. The marine systems of the Florida Keys represent the most
productive fishery in the state and the third most productive on the
eastern seaboard. Our tourism industry is largely dependent on SCUBA
diving, sportfishing and other nature-based tourism activities.
Wastewater and stormwater are the principal sources of nutrients in
our near-shore waters, and the construction of wastewater and
stormwater facilities in the Keys is the most effective solution to the
water quality problems that now threaten the Florida Keys. The Keys are
an island chain made up of porous limestone rock and coral. This
situation causes normal septic systems to be ineffective and makes it
necessary to install expensive treatment facilities. These problems are
compounded by the fact that we are a 100 mile long chain of thirty
populated islands. As a result, because of our unique geography and
geology, the needed facilities cost 3-4 times the national average and
are, therefore, truly unaffordable without federal assistance.
The United States Congress recognized the value of the Florida Keys
in 1990 and passed legislation establishing the Florida Keys National
Marine Sanctuary. That legislation mandated that the Environmental
Protection Agency and the State of Florida develop a water quality
protection program for the sanctuary. The plan has been completed. We
now know what needs to be done. But required measures are so costly
they cannot be achieved with local and state resources alone. At
present, there is no federal funding source to help our community make
the necessary water quality improvements.
Your Subcommittee is considering legislation which provides funding
to help restore the health of the nation's ailing coral reefs and
assist in maintaining the long-term wellbeing of these fragile
ecosystems. The efforts proposed represent an important step forward,
but they will not solve the serious pollution problems that face the
Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. Significant federal funding for
wastewater treatment facilities is essential. If these kinds of
facilities are not constructed, other conservation measures will not
make a substantial difference in our near-shore waters. Wastewater and
stormwater are the problem, and if we do not fix the problem, the
environmental quality of the Florida Keys Marine Sanctuary will
continue to deteriorate and a precious national resource will be lost.
Madam Chairwoman, I applaud this Subcommittee for considering the
possibility of dedicating federal funds to preserve, sustain, and
restore the health of the coral reef ecosystems before these precious
treasures are irreparably damaged. I would also ask every member of
this Subcommittee to make a further effort directed specifically at the
severe problem now facing the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. A
national treasure is now at risk in the Florida Keys, and our near-
shore waters are deteriorating. A solution has been identified, but
Monroe County and the State of Florida cannot carry the burden alone.
The Federal government needs to help. I ask, therefore, that every
member of this Subcommittee work with other Committees of the Congress
to fully fund the wastewater improvements that are necessary to
preserve the integrity of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.
Madam Chairwoman, the Miami Herald and a local Florida Keys
newspaper Solares Hill recently published articles on this topic, and I
would like to request that the text of each of these be printed as a
part of my testimony.
I thank you for this opportunity to address the Subcommittee.
Prepared Statement of Debra S. Harrison, AICP, Florida Keys Director,
World Wildlife Fund
Madam Chair, Members of the Subcommittee, thank you for the
opportunity to testify concerning the reauthorization of the National
Marine Sanctuaries Act. I am a long-time resident of the Florida Keys,
where I have served as a member of the Florida Keys National Marine
Sanctuary Advisory Council for three and a half years. I also serve as
a member of the South Florida Regional Planning Council and the
Governor's Commission for a Sustainable South Florida. I recently
received the coveted Chevron Conservation Award in recognition of more
than twenty years of actions to protect the Florida Keys and South
Florida ecosystem. I appreciate this opportunity to share from my
experience in the Florida Keys why I strongly believe that the National
Marine Sanctuaries Act should be reauthorized.
The Florida Keys are home to one of the world's richest and most
diverse marine ecosystems. Its treasures include the third-largest
coral barrier reef in the world; expansive shallow water flats and sea-
grass meadows; hundreds of mangrove islands surrounded by patch reefs
and hard-bottom communities. The array of wildlife of this special
ecosystem includes wading birds, osprey, bald eagles, endangered
diminutive Florida Key deer, sea turtles, and oceans teaming with reef
fish, lobster, shrimp, shark and dolphin, permit and bonefish, just to
begin the list.
So revered are these resources that the federal government has
established four National Wildlife Refuges, three National Parks,
thousands of acres of Wilderness Designated Area, and this country's
second largest National Marine Sanctuary, all within the Florida Keys
ecosystem. The Florida Keys receive four million visitors a year from
around the nation and around the world, lured by its incredible beauty
But protecting the natural resources of the Keys has not happened
without controversy. The Keys are an archipelago consisting of dozens
of small islands historically isolated from the mainland. The
population of residents that chose to carve out a living here decades
ago struggled for survival. In this subtropical climate with little
freshwater, few amenities and a multitude of natural challenges, such
as hurricanes and mosquitoes, life was hard. Those that survived did so
with a fierce sense of independence.
This century brought modern amenities to the Keys, such as a
transportation network linking the islands together in a chain to South
Florida, a freshwater pipeline, electricity, mosquito spraying, air
conditioning, and finally, cable television. As a result, the Keys grew
into one of the most sought-after destinations for those fleeing the
cold, gray winds of northern winter months.
Development boomed. Lands were plotted, forests bulldozed, canals
and channels dredged. By the mid-seventies, the Florida Keys had been
designated an Area of Critical Concern by the State of Florida because
of the wholesale destruction of the Keys natural resources that the
state had defined as the ``crown jewel'' of Florida. The last twenty-
five years have been a textbook example of the challenges and successes
of bringing balance to the efforts to intertwine economic stability
with environmental protection. That balance has not come easily.
In the mid-80's, extensive efforts were underway to gain control of
rampant overdevelopment of the Florida Keys. Local comprehensive plans
were being re-written, federal refuge mangers were struggling with
protecting endangered species, and programs to address water quality
degradation from untreated human sewage were being discussed. Rapid
development of the Keys was resulting in excessive demands for new
infrastructure and public facilities and that, along with a spiraling
demand for growth, exacerbated the already high cost of living, and all
for a degraded quality of life and natural resource base.
The Keys became a battleground for efforts at the local, state and
federal level to balance necessary resource protection with local
economic interests. Those efforts were further complicated by the
residents' traditional sense of independence and isolation. During the
height of that battle, legislation was introduced in the U.S. Congress
to establish the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary (FKNMS). It was
expected that the proposal would be met with controversy. What is
noteworthy is that less than a decade after its introduction, the FKNMS
is fully embraced by the Florida Keys public.
The FKNMS serves as a model for the establishment of resource-
management programs globally. So impressive was the public-
participation element of that effort that the U.S. General Accounting
Office hailed NOAA's process in its October, 1995 report to Congress.
In the report, entitled Restoring the Everglades: Pubic Participation
in Federal Efforts, the GAO recommended that the Interagency Task Force
on the South Florida Ecosystem ``develop a strategy to improve
collaboration with nonfederal stakeholders in coordinating
environmental restoration activities in South Florida and should view
as examples the processes used by NOAA to develop a comprehensive
management plan for the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary...''
(emphasis added). Appendix II of the GAO report outlines the process
and efforts to manage the FKNMS.
The GAO also recognized the contentious nature of environmental
protection efforts and found that ``although consensus among federal
and nonfederal stakeholders is desirable, restoration efforts are
inherently contentious and consensus on solutions that directly affect
various interests may not be attainable. In addition, dissatisfaction
with the process for nonfederal involvement expressed by stakeholders
directly affected by a public policy decision often cannot be
dissociated from their dissatisfaction with the outcome of the process.
Therefore, the most that federal agencies may be able to achieve is an
open airing and full consideration of all views within the constraints
imposed by external factors'' (emphasis added).
The controversy surrounding federal resource protection efforts in
the Florida Keys cannot be understated. Coalitions were formed to
obstruct those efforts, including bringing in national Wise Use
affiliates, such as the Center for Defense of Free Enterprise. The
hanging of effigies, demonstrations and public protests were
commonplace. The opposition to the FKNMS was well-organized and highly
effective. The message disseminated was not one of opposing protection
of the resource, but of an anti-federal control theme. ``We don't need
more Federal control in the Keys'' was the campaign cry of Sanctuary
opponents. The message galvanized local constituents who were already
discontent due to a preceding decade of local, state and federal agency
restrictions intended to reverse the rampant destruction of nationally
What truly sets the work of NOAA apart from other resource-
protection efforts undertaken both in the Keys and nationally has been
the open process that has allowed public buy-in to the outcome of that
process. While the activities surrounding adoption of the FKNMS
management plan involved high levels of controversy, today, just two
years after the final adoption of the plan, the FKNMS now enjoys
overarching support for the program. Evidence of that level of support
is demonstrated by radio and newspaper advertisements by local
businesses and Chambers of Commerce throughout the Keys advertising the
FKNMS. Public participation in FKNMS education and volunteer programs
is skyrocketing. The FKNMS is viewed by the general public as a
positive community program.
The latest example of the success of the FKNMS is exemplified by
the unanimous consensus that was developed around the establishment of
an ecological reserve in the area of the Dry Tortugas. Known as T2000,
the planning process engaged a broad Working Group consisting of
sportsfishers, commercial fishers, divers, business representatives,
and conservationists. The outcome of the Working Group was then
forwarded to the FKNMS Advisory Council where it again received
unanimous approval. Building that kind of support in the Florida Keys
has historically been impossible to accomplish. The work and approach
of NOAA in conjunction with the FKNMS and the T2000 process has truly
changed the way conservation initiatives can be achieved in the Florida
I believe that the Florida Keys experience with the National Marine
Sanctuaries program provides an important example of why the National
Marine Sanctuaries Act must be reauthorized. If a program to protect
one of the most ecologically diverse and important marine ecosystems in
the world can succeed in collaboration with a local public that is
highly suspicious of federal resource protection programs, then this
program, I believe, can excel anywhere. The Florida Keys story has
truly been a success story for the effectiveness of the National Marine
Sen. Snowe, Members of the Committee, thank you for your work on
behalf of America's marine resources, and for the opportunity to
provide testimony to you. I shall be pleased to work with you and help
in any way that I can.