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Sanctuary Program Joins International Year of the Reef Campaign

By Walt Bonora
National Marine Sanctuaries

Recognizing an urgent need to increase awareness and understanding of coral reefs, and to further conserve and manage valuable reef ecosystems, the International Coral Reef Initiative (ICRI) designated 2008 as the International Year of the Reef.

Convict tang in the lagoon at Kure Atoll State Wildlife Refuge in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Marine National Monument
Convict tang in the lagoon at Kure Atoll State Wildlife Refuge in the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. (Photo: Claire Fackler, National Marine Sanctuaries)
The worldwide campaign will address the value and importance of coral reefs and threats to their sustainability - nearly 10 percent of the Earth's coral reefs have been seriously degraded. The Initiative is a partnership among governments, international organizations, and non-government organizations dedicated to preserving coral reefs and related ecosystems.

 “It is no secret that many of the world’s coral reefs are in peril,” said Daniel J. Basta, director, National Marine Sanctuary Program. “Climate change, natural events like hurricanes, coastal development and other human and environmental stresses have ganged up on the corals of the world. NOAA and the National Marine Sanctuary Program are key players in coral reef initiatives designed to protect these fragile ecosystems.”

Throughout the year, the program plans several events and outreach efforts including a coral reef lecture series at Florida Keys Eco-Discovery Center in Key West, Fla., a telepresence project at Maui Ocean Center, and several community events and workshops led by staff from the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary.

Look for more articles and announcements in Sanctuary Watch, press releases and web postings highlighting efforts to raise awareness and protect these fragile ecosystems.

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