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PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (November 20, 1998 - PACNEWS)---The United States Government has issued a special award to American Samoa for its participation in regional environmental programs, especially efforts to preserve coral reefs.

The award was recently presented to Gov. Tauese Sunia in Florida by United States Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt.

It commends American Samoa's commitment to protecting coral reef resources and leadership in the U.S. Coral Reef Initiative between 1994-1998.

Florida, the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, the Northern Marianas, Guam and Hawaii also received awards but American Samoa was given special recognition because of its role in promoting environmental care and preservation in the South Pacific, through the South Pacific Regional Environmental Program (SPREP).

As a SPREP member, American Samoa not only represents itself but also carries the United States flag in its dealings with the region's environment organization.

Other U.S. Pacific Island members of SPREP are Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands.

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