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Protecting Coral Reefs
Recognizing the significant social, economic, and environmental importance of healthy coral reef ecosystems, the Administration has provided strong leadership and support for the United States Coral Reef Task Force. Established in 1998, the Task Force leads and coordinates efforts to conserve coral reefs. It is co-chaired by the Secretary of the Interior and the Secretary of Commerce, and composed of the heads of 11 Federal agencies and governors from seven states and territories. The Task Force completed several significant efforts, including the first-ever status report on the condition of U.S. coral reef ecosystems, and a report to Congress outlining key actions needed to conserve coral reefs. During the meeting on February 27, 2003, Secretary Norton announced that regulations and General Management Plans would go forward for the new Virgin Islands Coral Reef National Monument (12,708 acres), and the expanded Buck Island Reef National Monument (18,135 acres). Created by Presidential Proclamations in 2001, these new marine reserves will provide full protection to coral reef ecosystems from extractive uses when implemented. The National Park Service and the government of the Virgin Islands worked closely on the interim rule and Notices of Intent for the new Monuments and Virgin Islands National Park.
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