CNMI BUSINESS LEADERS URGE CORAL REEF PROTECTION

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By Haidee V. Eugenio

SAIPAN, Northern Mariana Islands (July 31, 2002 - Marianas Variety/PINA Nius Online)---Saipan business leaders have been asked to join the fight to protect coral reefs in the Northern Marianas, and reminded that this is good for the tourism business.

Division of Fish and Wildlife natural resource planner Thorne Abbott told the Rotary Club of Saipan that coral reefs not only sustain fisheries, but also help boost tourism.

He said coral reefs also offer other business potential, including pharmacy products and living museums.

He told the assembled business leaders: "In Jamaica, for example, the medicine derived from reefs is worth some $54 million. They were able to obtain from the reefs new drugs for treating cancer, arthritis, bacterial infections and other diseases."

Without protecting and preserving the coral reefs, Abbott said the Northern Marianas would lose revenue from tourism and from fishing, as well as environmental and cultural benefits.

As an example, he noted Managaha Island’s protective coral reefs and clean waters, which he said serve as a rich source of food fish and medicinal plants.

He said: "By protecting our most valued natural assets, Managaha can sustain our community and the needs of generations to come. Please join us by supporting and participating in this important endeavor."

Coral reefs also provide protection from typhoons and storm surges, and prevent shoreline erosion and loss of beach sand, Abbott said.

The Northern Marianas government created "no take zones" throughout the islands to protect and restore critical reef habitat. These sanctuaries include marine conservation areas and marine reserves.

The activities prohibited in these areas include fishing, harvesting, removal of corals, fish feeding, anchoring, littering, dumping and trash disposal.

The Division of Fish and Wildlife, Coastal Resources Management, the Division of Environmental Quality and other agencies have also formed a marine monitoring team. Through this they are working together to boost efforts to protect coral reefs.

For additional reports from the Marianas Variety, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/ Marianas Variety.

Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) Website: http://www.pinanius.org 

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