NOAA Public Affairs

FIRST U.S. CORAL REEF TASK FORCE TO MEET IN FLORIDA

Save Coral ReefsNOAA and the Department of the Interior are jointly hosting the first meeting of the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force next week in Florida. The Task Force was formed in response to President Clinton's June 1998 Executive Order to coordinate and address critical problems in the protection and restoration of coral reef ecosystems in U.S., commonwealth and territorial waters and to work in partnership internationally to reduce significant threats to coral reefs worldwide.

The U.S. Coral Reef Task Force will meet in Biscayne National Park, Florida on October 19th and 20th. Media can attend the whole two day session. Due to the size of the room, all discussions are being broadcast in a press tent outside the Visitor's Center but access to the room will be available as space allows. Events include:

Monday, October 19:
9:00 a.m.- 11:15 a.m.: Reef briefing, inspection and snorkel trip with Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt and Commerce Deputy Secretary Robert Mallett and scientists in Biscayne National Park. The boat will depart from docks behind the Convoy Point Visitors Center at Park headquarters, 9700 SW 328th Street in Homestead (305/230-1144 x 3002).
11:30 a.m.: Media availability with Interior Secretary Babbitt and Commerce Deputy Secretary Mallett at Park boat dock.
1:00 p.m.: Opening statements at U.S. Coral Reef Task Force given by Secretary Babbitt and Deputy Secretary Mallett Task Force will work until approximately 5:00 p.m.

October 20:
8:00 a.m. - noon: Task Force meeting
12:00 p.m.: Co-chairman Secretary Babbitt and either Deputy Commerce Secretary Robert Mallett or Under Secretary and NOAA Administrator Dr. D. James Baker summarize Task Force decisions and next steps.
12:30 p.m. Media availability with scientists and Task Force Co-Chairmen in media tent.
1:30 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.: Boat field trip and site visit, and snorkeling on critical reef habitats in Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. Interior Secretary Babbitt and Under Secretary Baker will be aboard. Media wishing to join this boat trip should contact Alyson Matley (NOAA) at
305/292-0311. The boat will leave from the boat ramp at Homestead Waterfront Park with shuttle service to be provided from Biscayne National Park.

For more information contact John Robinson at (202) 482-6090 or Stephanie Hanna, Department of the Interior, at (202) 501-4633.

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