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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (September 26, 2002 – The National)---Papua New Guinea is the beneficiary of more than 70 percent of nearly US$ 500 million in marine resource development aid provided by the United States to Pacific nations.

The PNG projects include protecting coral reefs from destructive fishing practices, protecting and managing reef fish spawning aggregations and coral reef conservation in Kimbe Bay, New Britain.

The projects target key species, coral and other habitats and the marine ecosystems that sustain some of the highest levels of marine bio-diversity found on the planet.

The U.S. Embassy in Port Moresby announced this week that in the past year the U.S. Government has provided more than of US$ 445,000 to support marine resource conservation projects in the Pacific region.

The aid amount is expected to increase to about US$ 800,000 as the U.S. has committed an additional US$ 500,000 over the coming two years to protect and manage reef fish spawning aggregations.

The projects are being executed by The Nature Conservancy, which is working in conjunction with the governments of Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Palau and the Federated States of Micronesia, as well as provincial governments, other NGOs and local communities.

The U.S. ambassador to PNG, Susan Jacobs, praised the projects and said that the people and nations of the South Pacific appreciated the value of the region's marine resources.

The U.S. Government, through its embassy, will continue to encourage sustainable practices and sound environmental management's in order to protect and maintain fragile ecosystems and precious natural resources, Ms. Jacobs said.

For additional reports from The National, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/The National (Papua New Guinea).

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