VIDEO: Guam, CNMI, American Samoa & Hawaii Concerned About Proposed Listing of 66 Coral Species on Endangered List

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Guam- The Pacific Islands Regional Ocean Partnership or PROP has great concerns over a proposed listing of 66 reef building corals under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

PROP is a partnership between the governors of Hawaii, the CNMI, American Samoa and Guam. Department of Chamorro Affairs President Joseph Cameron is Guam’s representative to PROP. He mentions aside from running 5 Government of Guam departments and 29 programs, he is the point of contact in anything dealing with coral reef conservation programs, fisheries and ocean matters for the island.

He explains PROP met last week in Hawaii for a 2 day workshop to discuss the coral listing. He notes the original petition by the Center for Biological Diversity requested that over 80 species of coral be listed as potentially endangered or threatened. Calling the group “tree huggers,” Cameron says PROP has a problem with that request because these people have never been to the pacific. He also argues mapping all these species is another concern and that the listing infringes on the state and territories’ ability to manage its resources.

Cameron notes while the petition is going through a federal process, he emphasizes Guam has its own way of managing its 4,000 year history of taking care of its coral.

“It’s very important that when the tree huggers make a petition to list, that they know what they’re listing,” said Cameron. “We are very concerned. All four governors are concerned that they don’t know what they’re listing. They’re out making a name for themselves and they’re trying to micromanage, from Colorado, what happens to the pacific island nations. It’s very inappropriate, quite honestly. It’s quite dastardly and of course all the tree huggers out there in the world are probably having a field day because they’re tree hugging.”

He adds Guam has over 400 species of coral. PROP will be meeting again sometime in November. The organization was created to assist the 4 pacific governors in identifying coastal and ocean management priorities. 

READ the release from PROP below:

The Steering Committee for the Pacific Islands Regional Ocean Partnership (PROP) met last week in Honolulu, Hawaii.

The meeting included a two-day workshop on the proposed listing of 66 reef-building corals under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).  The proposed listing is cause for concern due to the impact such an expansive listing can have on the state and territories’ ability to manage its resources.

The purpose of the workshop was to learn about the ESA and related regulations such as the Magnuson-Stevens Act, Essential Fish Habitat, and Clean Water Act; to share jurisdictional management concerns; and to increase marine resource managers’ understanding these of federal mandates.  The workshop included participants from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Protected Services Division and Habitat Conservation Division, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. EPA, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Coast Guard, and local and state regulators.

The workshop achieved its objective by starting a conversation about strategies for more effective collaboration with federal agencies. “If these species are listed,” said Chair Souki, “the state and territories will be better able to ensure that its resources are effectively managed for the benefit of current and future generations through specific strategies with federal regulatory partners.”

The Mission of the PROP is to assist the U.S. Pacific Islands Region Governors of American Samoa (AS), the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas (CNMI), Guam (GU), and Hawai‘i (HI) identify coastal and ocean management priorities that require a coordinated regional response and increased collaboration to effectively address.  The PROP Steering Committee is comprised of four members appointed by the PROP Governors.  They are Jesse Souki (Chair, HI), Fran Castro (Vice Chair, CNMI), Dr. Ruth Matagi-Tofiga (AS), and Joseph Artero-Cameron (GU).

Learn more about PROP and its activities by following us at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Pacific-Regional-Ocean-Partnership/192088610951950, or by contacting Dr. Takiora Ingram, PROP Secretariat, at prop.secretariat@gmail.com.