10th US Coral Reef Task Force Meeting, Saipan Tribue, 10/31/06
Source: Saipan Tribune
The CNMI has asked the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force for help in the development of a sustainable financing strategy that would meet the conservation goals of the Micronesia Challenge.
During the 16th meeting of the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, Fran Castro, Coral Reef Point of Contact for the CNMI, appealed to the task force to support the development of a sustainable financing strategy for the Micronesia Challenge, a declaration signed by Gov. Benigno R. Fitial, Guam Gov. Felix Camacho and the presidents of Palau, Marshalls and the Federated States of Micronesia to effectively conserve 30 percent nearshore marine environment and 20 percent terrestrial in each of their islands.
Castro also urged that federal partners should work with local agencies when permitting projects that may affect CNMI's coral reefs; and she asked to begin discussions with the Department of Defense-Navy to find alternative solutions to minimize the impact to coral reefs from anchoring activities of preposition ships.
The 16th meeting of the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands brought together close to 300 coral reef experts and managers from federal, state and territory agencies to discuss solutions to address the declining of coral reefs.
Each Task Force member was given the opportunity to give updates on their accomplishments.
Castro presented her update, which included accomplishments in marine protected areas, education and outreach, inshore creel survey project, the Laolao Bay and Talakhaya Watershed projects, summer internship program and the Micronesia Challenge.
Task Force co-chair Kameran Onley, Assistant Deputy Secretary for the Department of Interior, remarked that Castro's presentation raised the bar to the top after a 10-hour day of presentations.
The week-long meetings opened with the All Islands Committee Meeting comprised of the coral reef jurisdictions, and its affiliate members, the FSM, Marshall Islands and Palau. The committee discussed how to further strengthen its relationship with the Task Force, and also to establish partnerships with other organizations. Discussions also included improving communications among the islands by launching a website for the committee. Other discussions include the drafting of a guidance for the second round of Coral Reef Protection Local Action Strategies.
There were also several workshops like Tools for Responding to Major Injury Events in Coral Reefs, Sustainable Tourism and Grant Writing.
The Task Force also released the book entitled A Manager's Guide to Coral Bleaching, which provides a synthesis of ideas and case studies from around the world that focuses on integrating reef resilience into MPA design by exploring ideas of short-term responses that managers can implement during mass bleaching events and considering broader long term responses.
There were several presentations during the business meetings, including one by world-renowned coral reef expert, Dr. Jeremy Jackson from the Scripps Institute of Oceanography and the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute.
Jackson discussed the good and bad news related to coral reefs. The good news is that:
* Protection works on large, spatial and temporal scales. MPAs should be at least 100km in order for them to work. This was proven in Cozumel and Cuba MPAs.
* More intact food webs and stronger top-down control provide greater resilience in the face of global change
* Strong local protection can make a big difference for the future of corals and is the best insurance we've got against global climate change
The bad news is:
* Asymmetry of destruction vs. recovery-just like the Humpty Dumpty effect. We don't know how to put the ecosystem back together again
* Time lags in benthic community response to management actions in a sound bite world
* Uncertainty of the outcome of conservation because of nonlinearities and contingency
* Timidity of scientists and managers to take large scale management risks as experiments and to have the courage to be wrong.
In 1998, President Clinton issued an Executive Order calling for the formation of the Task Force consisting of the heads of federal agencies charged with resource management, including the governors of the seven coral reef jurisdictions of American Samoa, Guam, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, Florida and the CNMI.