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CONGRESSMAN ENI F.H. FALEOMAVAEGA From American Samoa U.S. House of Representatives Washington, D.C.

NEWS RELEASE March 17, 2000


Congressman Eni Faleomavaega announced that bipartisan legislation to establish a permanent national coral reef conservation program has been introduced in the House of Representatives.

"The legislation introduced by the Chairman of the Fisheries Subcommittee and myself will authorize $60 million over four years to assess the size and health of the coral reefs in United States waters, and to formulate a plan to preserve these reefs," said Faleomavaega. "Of this amount, $40 million will be available for coral reef conservation grants."

Among items addressed, the bill codifies the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force, the group which worked with the Council on Environmental Quality to obtain funding to remove nine grounded vessels from the reefs in American Samoa. "The removal of the vessels in my home is a very immediate example of the short-term benefits which can be derived from this legislation," said the Congressman. "Whereas before it almost took an act of Congress to obtain money to save the reefs these vessels were destroying, this bill gives the United States statutory authorization to quickly address problems of this nature."

The bill ensures a wide range of organizations, including local and state governments, non-profit organizations, and the Regional Fishery Management Councils will be eligible to apply for grants under this legislation.

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