September 17, 2010â€“ Governor Togiola Tulafono continues its commitment to coral reef conservation as an active participant of the United States Coral Reef Task Force at a meeting in Saipan, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) on September 17, 2010.
As one of the principal bodies spearheading coral reef conservation, the United States Coral Reef Task Force, meeting in Saipan, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), steers national and international coral reef conservation, and meets bi-annually to identify needs, organize collaborative efforts, and develop pertinent coral reef conservation actions.
â€œWe are proud to attend this meeting which brings high-level officials from diverse agencies and institutions together to talk about the future of our coral reefs,â€ said Governor Togiola. â€œAmerican Samoa is facing many issues that put our reefs and livelihoods at risk including climate change, population pressure, and land-based sources of pollution. Participating in the Task Force meetings enables us to address these threats at a federal level.â€
Opening remarks were made by a number of governors from U.S. coral reef jurisdictions, including American Samoa Gov. Togiola, who made a plea to the Task Force to review and amend the National Emergency Response Plan, which failed to assist the Territory in the removal of marine debris left by last yearâ€™s tsunami.
Further topics addressed during the meeting include President Barack Obamaâ€™s establishment of a National Policy for the Stewardship of the Ocean, Coasts, and Great Lakes, which the Task Force intends to incorporate into their coral reef management agenda. (PHOTO: Courtesy of Saipan Tribune)
A regionally significant issue includes the planned Military Buildup in Guam, which is projected to have deleterious effects on local coral reefs. The Task Force is assessing compensatory mitigation options to offset the environmental impacts from the buildup.
The topic of climate change surfaced throughout the discussions, while American Samoa was recognized as one of the leading jurisdictions in management plans and actions.
On Thursday evening, September 16, 2010, Governor Togiola and CNMI Governor Benigno Fitial were invited to a reception hosted by the Samoan families in Saipan.
American Samoa delegates to the meeting included Marine and Wildlife Resources Director - Ufagafa Ray Tulafono, and Commerce Deputy Director - Lelei Peau, who also serves on the Governor's Coral Reef Advisory Group staff.
The next meeting of the USCRTF is scheduled in Washington D.C. in February 2011. For more information about the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force visit http://www.coralreef.gov