Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, senior member of the Florida Congressional Delegation, is pleased to once again be an original co-sponsor of the "Coral Reef Conservation Act Reauthorization & Enhancement Amendments of 2009" that would establish the first dedicated Federal grant program for coral reef protection, amongst other provisions. The legislation has 16 original co-sponsors; a similar bill was approved by the full House in the last Congress.
This bill reauthorizes the original "Coral Reef Conservation Act" and makes some important Florida related changes:
Empowers NOAA to respond to vessel groundings on coral reefs. There have been numerous reports of vessels scraping and seriously damaging coral reefs. The State of Florida currently has the authority to respond but it is important to have a federal mandate as many of these areas are federally protected.
Creates a community based grant program where local environment organizations can compete for funding to study the reefs.
Said Ros-Lehtinen, "Coral Reefs and the ecosystems that they form are a vital component of healthy oceans and indeed life on earth. It is our responsibility as a nation to assure that we study them and undertake public policies that do not endanger them; on the contrary we must make sure they are protected. When one considers that the only States in the Union with a living coral reef are Florida and Hawaii, then their importance in our ecosystem is all the more glaring. I am pleased to co-sponsor this legislation and I urge my colleagues to do the same."