U.S.Assistant Secretary for Insular Areas Esther Kia’aina has approved $650,000 in grant assistance under the country’s Office of Insular Affairs Coral Reef Initiative to help reduce threats faced by coral reefs and to improve the management of these natural resources.
The Coral Reef Initiative is designed to improve the health of coral reefs and marine ecosystems and resources in the island territories of the United States to ensure long term economic health and benefits to the people who live on those islands.
“Coral reef resources are under threat from a variety of stresses, including sedimentation, poor water quality, over-harvesting, coastal development and climate change,” Kia’aina said in a statement. “It is important to build capacity by training high school and college students interested in coral reef protection and management and increasing education and awareness for the general public. These grants will help achieve these objectives while addressing local threats and improving the overall health of coral reefs that are critical to the livelihoods of island communities.”
The monies will go to the following organizations:
National Coral Reef Institute: $200,000. The funds will support a Coral Assistantship program in American Samoa, Guam, the U.S. Virgin Island, and the Northern Mariana Islands.
Micronesia Islands Nature Alliance: $133,776. The Tasi-Watch Program, which trains unemployed recent high school graduates to become community conservation rangers to help protect coral reefs. Funds will also support summer eco-camps for teachers and students that will focus on conserving Saipan’s watershed.
Micronesia Conservation Trust: $175,000. These monies will be used to implement goals that were established during the 2013-2016 Strategic Action Plan of the Pacific Islands Managed and Protected Areas Community. This will encompass addressing vulnerabilities and adaption to climate change, conducting community based conservation projects, and training youth in marine resource management.
American Samoa’s Coral Reef Advisory Group: $135,169. Water quality issues will be addressed as well as a plan to identify the likely sources of nutrient loads in American Samoa’s watersheds. Rain gardens will also be installed to reduce land based sources of pollution in watersheds, and finally, efforts will be made to eradicate the crown of thorns starfish that have invaded the local waters and to monitor the coral bleaching event that occurred earlier this year.