CNMI Governor Wants Corals Protected By Endangered Species Act

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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i

Torres addresses UH Coral Reef Task Force in DC

By Dennis B. Chan

SAIPAN, CNMI (Saipan Tribune, Feb. 24, 2016) – Speaking to members of the 35th annual meeting of the US Coral Reef Task Force last week, Gov. Ralph DLG Torres drew some attention to the task force’s involvement in getting coral species in the islands to fall under the Endangered Species Act.

The inclusion in the act has left "many challenges that have not been addressed at the federal level," Torres said.

Challenges that, if addressed, would make sure that "island economies would not be burdened with inadequate capacity to efficiently manage" the new requirements under the ESA, Torres said.

"Given the steady decline of our coral reefs, the integration of the federal-jurisdictional partnership is key to effective and efficient progress toward coral reef sustainability in our islands," Torres said in his remarks, encouraging the task force "strengthen our relationships for the benefit of our reefs and those who depend on them."

"Climate change and ocean acidification continue to be imminent threats to our coral reefs and are some of the main reasons for coral reef decline. Greenhouse gas emissions are a major driver of this phenomenon, and we need to consider possible solutions or policies to put in place," Torres added.

Torres also spoke to The Nature Conservancy in Washington, D.C. last Friday and highlighted the collaborative coral reef conservation successes from the seven-year partnership between the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and The Nature Conservancy.

Torres said he is grateful for these partnerships and looks forward to continued partnerships, referring to how Micronesian region is home to diverse marine and coastal habitats with over 1,300 fish species and over 480 coral species,

"In the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, partnership activities are conducted within the framework of the Micronesia Challenge which is a commitment to conserve at least 30 percent of near shore marine resources and 20 percent of terrestrial resources by 2020," he said.

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