Interior OKs $1.3M to protect coral reefs in insular areas


WASHINGTON, D.C.—More than $1.34 million in fiscal year 2018 grant funding under the Coral Reef and Natural Resources initiative has been approved for the U.S. territories and the freely associated states.

Office of Insular Affairs director Nik Pula was in American Samoa this week to co-chair the 40th U.S. Coral Reef Task Force Meeting where he announced the funding.

“[Doug Domenech, U.S. Department of the Interior Assistant Secretary, Insular and International Affairs] and I are pleased to provide these grants to the U.S. territories and the freely associated states and help protect coral reefs and marine resources,” said Pula. “From rehabilitation of corals, to outreach, restoration, and removal of invasive species and pests, these projects support an important aspect economies and livelihood for people [on] the islands.”

-American Samoa Coral Reef Advisory Group will get $173,200 to restore and rehabilitate coral reefs at the Ofu-Olosega islands in American Samoa that have been damaged by an algae outbreak of Valonia fastigiata. Project managers will be working closely with the National Park Service.

-The Bureau of Environmental and Coastal Quality in the CNMI will get $166,949 to support several projects including participation in the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force Meetings; Laolao Watershed Management Plan Development; and the Coral Nursery Development Project.

-The Guam Bureau of Statistics and Plans will get $220,231 to support several projects including Marine Tour Operator Workshop; Coral Reef Management; Coral Reef Conservation Outreach and Education; 4) Removal of an invasive bamboo plant, Bambusa vulgaris from priority watershed areas; the Tasi Guides Program; and the geotechnical investigation of rainfall-induced landslides in Piti-Asan watershed.

-The U.S. Virgin Islands Division of Coastal Zone Management will get $122,791 to support coral restoration and coral nursery operations, and for its participation in U.S. Coral Reef Task Force meetings.

-Women’s Aquaculture Farming Initiative, Republic of the Marshall Islands: $134,582.

-The Hawaii State Museum of Natural and Cultural History and the Palau International Coral Reef Center: $185,503.

-Micronesia Islands Nature Alliance: $142,000 to support the Tasi Watch Ranger Program which was developed to build and strengthen CNMI youth and community’s involvement in management of coastal and near-shore marine resources. This project includes efforts to remove invasive tangan tangan trees, leucocephala, and restore native species of trees and plants that were lost during Typhoon Saudelor in 2015.

Earlier this year, $200,000 was provided to support the 2018-2020 National Coral Reef Management Fellowship Program in American Samoa, Guam, the CNMI, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Funds are made available through the Department of the Interior’s Office of Insular Affairs’ Coral Reef and Natural Resources Initiative. Applications are generally submitted from October through May 1st each year. Funds are awarded once OIA receives appropriations from the U.S. Congress until they are exhausted. (DOI)

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