1997 has been designated the International Year of the Coral Reef (IYOR). United States government agencies and more than 50 other organizations from around the globe have sanctioned the 1997 IYOR to raise awareness of the value of coral reefs and the challenges they face. The IYOR is an effort to promote and pursue the goals of the International Coral Reef Initiative (ICRI), a partnership of nations and organizations to protect and sustainably use fragile coral reef resources world-wide.
Why should we care about coral reefs? Coral reefs are important to our future. Reefs are:
Coral reefs also attract hundreds of thousands of divers, snorkelers and other tourists to tropical coasts every year. This recreation and travel supports a significant tourism industry dependent on clean waters and healthy coral reefs.
In the United States, the Department of Commerce's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is the primary federal agency responsible for the stewardship of marine resources including coral reefs. NOAA's activities include monitoring the health of domestic coral reefs, restoring damaged or destroyed sections of coral reefs, and working with states and other partners to maintain the health of coral reefs through management, research and education.
Where can you get more information? NOAA is working in partnership with other organizations to provide you with a list of experts and topics of interest.
Throughout 1997, NOAA will provide you with new information every week on a wide variety of issues related to coral reefs, and direct access to experts in many fields. Each of the 52-weekly coral stories includes ideas and experts, with issues ranging from threats to reefs (e.g., dynamite fishing in the tropical), to solutions (e.g., protected area management) and reef restoration projects (e.g., coral transplanting techniques).
Although NOAA is the coordinating entity for this effort, the list of story ideas and experts includes individuals from a variety of universities, agencies and organizations such as the American Zoo and Aquarium Association and the IUCN (World Conservation Union).
The sheets enclosed with this letter show how to access the 52 stories or find out more about NOAA's 1997 activities on coral reefs. If you have any questions or suggestions please contact Matt Stout in my office (phone: 202-482-6090; fax 202-482-3154) or visit NOAA's coral reef home page at http://www.noaa.gov/public-affairs/coral-reef.html
What can be done? The stakes are high: two-thirds of the earth's coral reefs are dying. It is estimated that 10-percent of the earth's coral reefs have already been degraded beyond recovery. A much larger percentage is now threatened. Human activities are among the major cause of reef decline.
Increasing public awareness about the value and plight of coral reefs can make a difference. I hope you will consider using these story ideas as valuable resources to explore the importance of our coral reefs, the challenges facing them, and some of the techniques being used to find solutions.
Thank you for your assistance. I look forward to working with you on this important topic.
Sincerely, Lori A. Arguelles