Interior Provides $1 Million in Coral Reef Initiative Grants to the U.S. Insular Areas

Grant assistance in the amount of $1,094,205 has been announced by the federal government to address the impacts of climate change and other threats to coral reefs in the U.S. territories and freely associated states. The grants are part of the Coral Reef Initiative Program in the Office of Insular Affairs (OIA), according to a press release issued on Friday by the U.S. Department of the Interior.
“I am pleased to support these coral reef projects that focus on understanding and reducing the effects of climate change on coral reef ecosystems,” said Interior Assistant for Insular Areas Secretary Esther Kia’aina. “These grants are especially timely as we witness the devastating effects on our coral reefs from this year’s record-breaking warm ocean temperatures. These funds will help insular area governments and communities take measures to increase the resilience of these critical resources in the face of the significant threats posed by climate change.”
The Virgin Islands Department of Planning and Natural Resources has been given $131,000 to enhance the effectiveness of local coral reef planning efforts; to create ‘stewards of the reef’ through targeted marine experience and the education of local high school students; and to integrate “ocean acidification sentinel” sites into the islands’ territorial coral reef monitoring program.
Other Coral Reef Initiative Grants awarded this week have gone to: Pohnpei, Federated States of Micronesia; the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, CNMI; Seattle, Washington; Guam; American Samoa; the Republic of the Marshall Islands; Hawaii; Santa Cruz, California; the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands; and Florida.
The Secretary of the Interior is responsible for coordinating federal policy with respect to the territories of the U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Guam, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and administering and overseeing U.S. federal assistance provided to the freely associated states of the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Republic of Palau under the Compacts of Free Association. On behalf of the Secretary, the Assistant Secretary for Insular Areas executes these responsibilities through the Office of Insular Affairs whose mission is to foster economic opportunities, promote government efficiency, and improve the quality of life for the people of the insular areas.

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