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U.S. EPA Awards Funds to Four Organizations for Coral Reef

Release Date: 3/4/2003
Contact Information: Dean Higuchi, (808) 541-2711

HONOLULU The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced today that it has awarded $479,499 to four organizations conducting valuable work to protect Hawai'i's coral reefs.

Funds are being provided to the Division of Aquatic Resources at the Hawai'i Department of Land and Natural Resources for an education and training program to eradicate alien seaweed; to the Hawai'i Institute of Marine Biology at the University of Hawai'i for assessment, mapping and monitoring of selected coral reefs; to Maui County for removal of seaweed from beaches at Kihei; and to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to evaluate ways to compensate for damage to reefs from coastal construction projects.

"Coral reefs and their ecosystems are vital components of our environment that deserve our diligent attention," said Wayne Nastri, regional administrator of the U.S. EPA's Pacific Southwest Region. "EPA funds are being provided to our partners here in Hawai'i who are making important progress in the study and protection of these unique and productive ecosystems."

The Hawai'i Department of Land and Natural Resources is receiving $103,145 in grant funds to address alien seaweed. The presence of non-indigenous seaweed can be a significant threat to the island's coral reefs. In many cases these seaweeds can overgrow and kill coral and the DLNR will utilize the EPA grant to train volunteers to effectively remove the seaweed.

The Hawai'i Institute of Marine Biology at the University of Hawai'i is receiving a $86,354 to assess, map and monitor coral reefs. With this grant, the U.H. is expanding its coral monitoring to focus on reefs near polluted waters. U.H. assessments will provide essential information on the health of coral reefs.

The EPA is also providing $250,000 in funds to Maui County for work they are doing to remove seaweed on the beaches of Kihei. Maui County is using its funds to develop innovative ways to remove seaweed from these beaches, helping protect beaches and coral reefs and to develop beneficial uses for the seaweed material.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is receiving $40,000 in funds from the EPA. Under an agreement between the two federal agencies, Fish and Wildlife Service's very valuable work will be done to evaluate how federal programs address damage to coral reefs caused by coastal construction projects.

EPA is a member of the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force, which is a partnership of many federal agencies, states and U.S. territories. The EPA and the U.S. Department of Agriculture are following up on task force objectives by holding workshops on controlling land-based sources of pollution to protect coral reefs.

The first of these workshops will be held in March and future workshops include a mid-June workshop on climate change and coral reefs sponsored by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, EPA and the Department of Interior. Another workshop focusing on all U.S. Pacific Islands will be held in conjunction with EPA's annual Pacific Islands Environmental Conference in Honolulu on June 23-27.