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Press Release

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Sept. 25, 2003


Robert Smith, NWHI Reserve/
(808) 933-8181


The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) today announced the newly selected members and alternates to the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Coral Reef Ecosystem Reserve Advisory Council (Council). The Council will continue to provide NOAA’s National Marine Sanctuary Program (NMSP) advice on the management of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Coral Reef Ecosystem Reserve, as well as the designation and management of the proposed Northwestern Hawaiian Islands National Marine Sanctuary. NOAA is an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

The Council plays an important role in helping shape many initiatives, which will provide lasting protection to the marine resources of the reserve. The newly appointed members represent a broad range of interest groups and backgrounds, which was a paramount concern during the selection process. Specifically, the Council will provide advice on the Reserve Operations Plan, which is nearing its completion, and advice and recommendations related to designating and managing any future national marine sanctuary in the reserve.

“The first two years of the Reserve Advisory Council process enabled NOAA to receive advice and recommendations on the operation of the Coral Reef Ecosystem Reserve, and ultimately produce a Reserve Operations Plan,” said Robert P. Smith, reserve coordinator. “The recently selected members of the Advisory Council will be asked to join the rest of the Council with a primary focus on the reserve’s sanctuary designation proposal.”

In December 2000, the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Coral Reef Ecosystem Reserve was designated to conserve one of the country’s most precious coral reef areas. As part of the reserve establishment, the Secretary of Commerce was directed to establish an advisory council, in accordance with the National Marine Sanctuaries Act. The Council operates under a charter developed by NOAA, which prescribes the frequency of meetings, objectives and roles, and operation of the council. Council meetings are open to the public.

The new NWHI Coral Reef Ecosystem Reserve Advisory Council’s voting representatives and their alternates include the following:

Citizen-At-Large: Kem Lowry-member, Sean Naleimaile-alternate; Conservation:
Linda Paul-member, Julie Leialoha-alternate, Jessica Wooley-alternate; Education:
Gail Grabowsky-member, Gail Clarke-alternate; Ocean-related Tourism: Birgit Winning-member, Matthew Zimmerman-alternate; Recreational Fishing: Rick Gaffney-member Rick Hoo-alternate; and Research: William Gilmartin-member, Catherine Courtney-alternate, Cynthia Hunter-member, William Worcester-alternate.

Vacancies remain for a Native Hawaiian representative and a Research alternate. These seats will be advertised shortly.

The Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Coral Reef Ecosystem Reserve contains 70 percent of the United States’ coral reefs and over 7,000 marine species, half of which are unique to the Hawaiian Islands. The area is critical habitat for many endangered and threatened species including the monk seal and the green sea turtle. The reserve is the largest conservation area in the United States and the second largest on earth with the first largest being the Great Barrier Reef in Australia.

NOAA’s NMSP seeks to increase the public awareness of America’s maritime heritage by conducting scientific research, monitoring, exploration and educational programs. Today, 13 national marine sanctuaries encompass more than 18,000 square miles of America’s ocean and Great Lakes natural and cultural resources.

NOAA’s National Ocean Service manages the NMSP and is dedicated to exploring, understanding, conserving and restoring the nation’s coasts and oceans. The National Ocean Service balances environmental protection with economic prosperity in fulfilling its mission of promoting safe navigation, supporting coastal communities, sustaining coastal habitats and mitigating coastal hazards.

The Commerce Department’s NOAA is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and providing environmental stewardship of our nation’s coastal and marine resources.

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