Congressman Faleomavaega announced today that H.R. 1205, the legislation he introduced to reauthorize the Coral Reef Conservation Act of 2000, passed its first significant hurdle enroute to passage. Meeting in an open markup session today, the Fisheries, Wildlife and Oceans Subcommittee, without opposition, favorably reported H.R. 1205 as amended to the full Natural Resources Committee for further consideration.
“I appreciate the broad bi-partisan support for this bill in the Subcommittee,” Faleomavaega said. “I want to thank my friend and colleague Chairwoman Bordallo for her decisive action in moving H.R. 1205 through the committee process, and I especially want to thank the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee, Mr. Henry Brown of South Carolina, for his leadership and support across the aisle.”
“Reauthorization of this coral reef conservation measure is vitally important because it recognizes the need for protecting our nation’s coral reef areas and it expands funding and programs to ensure our coral reef’s future protection,” Faleomavaega said. “In addition to the increase in appropriations, H.R. 1205 makes changes to the uses and allocation of grant funding to reflect emerging needs and increased overall authorization levels.”
“This legislation also codifies the US Coral Reef Task Force established by Executive Order in 1998. Because the protection and preservation of our coral reef ecosystems is so important, and because of the Task Force’s vital role in ensuring the continued health of our reefs, I believe the Task Force should be made permanent.”
“This coral reef measure also includes new community based planning grants that allow the development and implementation of coral protection plans. The bill also expands the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) emergency response authority to mitigate sea vessel coral reef impacts. Currently, NOAA is only able to administer grants to support these activities. Under this legislation, NOAA would be able to manage damage mitigation and vessel removal activities directly.”
“H.R. 505 also authorizes $1,000,000 to be appropriated to administer a Marine Science Laboratory for coral reef research and protection, coastal ecology and development, at the American Samoa Community College. At this time, I remain hopeful that with the strong interest in Congress and the bi-partisan support for coral reef conservation, H.R. 1205 will be enacted,” Faleomavaega concluded.