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105th Congress Report
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
1st Session 105-69
April 23, 1997.--Referred to the House Calendar and ordered to be
Mr. Young of Alaska, from the Committee on Resources, submitted the
R E P O R T
[To accompany H. Con. Res. 8]
The Committee on Resources, to whom was referred the
concurrent resolution (H. Con. Res. 8) expressing the sense of
Congress with respect to the significance of maintaining the
health and stability of coral reef ecosystems, having
considered the same, report favorably thereon with amendments
and recommend that the concurrent resolution be agreed to.
The amendments are as follows:
Strike out all after the resolving clause and insert in
lieu thereof the following:
That the Congress recognizes the significance of maintaining the health
and stability of coral reef ecosystems, by--
(1) promoting comprehensive stewardship for coral reef ecosystems;
(2) encouraging research, monitoring, and assessment of and
education on coral reef ecosystems; and
(3) improving the coordination of coral reef efforts and activities
of Federal agencies, academic institutions, nongovernmental
organizations, and industry.
Amend the preamble to read as follows:
Whereas coral reefs are among the world's most biologically diverse
and productive marine habitats, and are often described as the tropical
rain forests of the oceans;
Whereas healthy coral reefs provide the basis for subsistence,
commercial fisheries, and coastal and marine tourism and are of vital
economic importance to coastal States and territories of the United
States including Florida, Hawaii, Georgia, Texas, Puerto Rico, the
Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, and the Commonwealth of the
Northern Mariana Islands;
Whereas healthy coral reefs function as natural, regenerating
coastal barriers, protecting shorelines and coastal areas from high
waves, storm surges, and accompanying losses of human life and
Whereas the scientific community has long established that coral
reefs are subject to a wide range of natural and anthropogenic threats;
Whereas the United States has taken measures to protect national
coral reef resources through the designation and management of several
marine protected areas, containing reefs of the Flower Garden Banks in
the Gulf of Mexico, the Florida Keys in south Florida, and offshore
Hawaii, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and American Samoa;
Whereas the United States, acting through its agencies, has
established itself as a global leader in coral reef stewardship by
launching the International Coral Reef Initiative and by maintaining
professional networks for the purposes of sharing knowledge and
information on coral reefs, furnishing near real-time data collected at
coral reef sites, providing a repository for historical data relating
to coral reefs, and making substantial contributions to the general
fund of coral reef knowledge; and
Whereas 1997 has been declared the ``International Year of the
Reef'' by the coral reef research community and over 40 national and
international scientific, conservation, and academic organizations:
Now, therefore, be it
Amend the title so as to read:
A concurrent resolution recognizing the significance of
maintaining the health and stability of coral reef ecosystems.
purpose of the bill
The purposes of H. Con. Res. 8 are to express Congressional
commitment to maintaining healthy and stable coral reef
ecosystems and to honor the designation of 1997 as the
International Year of the Reef.
background and need for legislation
Coral reefs are among the world's most biologically diverse
and productive marine habitats. Requirements of warm water,
free of excessive nutrients and sediments, generally restrict
reef growth to shallow, tropical and subtropical coastal
regions. Thus, coral reefs are well developed in the coastal
waters of only two U.S. States, Florida and Hawaii. Extensive
reefs are associated with islands and territories under U.S.
jurisdiction in the Caribbean and Pacific (Puerto Rico, U.S.
Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa). Offshore in Federal
waters, deeper coral communities with broader distribution are
also present (e.g. Gray's Reef off the coast of Georgia, and
the Flower Garden Banks off Texas).
Healthy coral reefs provide countless products and benefits
to the coastal communities of these U.S. States and
territories. They are vital to coastal economies, serving as
the basis for coastal and marine tourism. Annually, for
example, the reefs of the Florida Keys attract over six million
visitors and generate over $2.1 billion in revenue from
snorkelers and scuba divers, recreational fishermen, boaters
and wildlife enthusiasts. Also, this reef-based tourism creates
hundreds of thousands of job opportunities in south Florida.
Healthy reefs also support valuable subsistence and
commercial reef fisheries. In 1995, domestic landings of
commercial reef fish and shellfish (snapper, grouper, spiny
lobster, etc.) exceeded $79.5 million. Reef fish imports, for
consumption or the marine aquarium trade, account for an
additional $25-50 million annually.
Healthy reefs function as habitat for many marine organisms
valued by the biomedical and pharmaceutical industries. For
example, a chemical compound derived from Caribbean reef
sponges is the active ingredient in medicines which are widely
used in cancer chemotherapy. Many other marine plants and
animals which live on coral reefs produce compounds with anti-
viral, anti-bacterial and related properties.
Finally, healthy reefs serve as natural protection for the
coastlines of Florida, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin
Islands, Guam and American Samoa. Coral reefs are effective
coastal breakwaters and barriers, and can reduce energy from
incoming waves by up to 97 percent. This minimizes the impacts
of high waves, storm surges, coastal erosion and the
accompanying threats to human life and property.
Nevertheless, scientists agree that the world's coral reefs
are subject to numerous natural and human-induced threats,
including: predator damage; storms and extreme weather events;
tourism pressures; commercial harvests; destructive fishing
techniques; vessel damage; and non-point source pollution
associated with coastal development. An estimated 10 percent of
reefs have degraded beyond recovery, and that statistic is
expected to reach 20 to 30 percent by the year 2010.
In response to evidence of widespread coral reef decline,
representatives from the governments of the United States and
seven other countries, non-governmental organizations,
multilateral development banks and private-sector businesses
formed a partnership, the International Coral Reef Initiative
(ICRI), in May 1994. The mission of ICRI is to build on
existing programs and expertise in coral reef conservation and
management by coordinating national, regional and international
activities. Explicitly, its aim is not to create new agencies
or bureaucracies or to act as a funding entity. The United
States is a leading participant in ICRI, and major efforts are
coordinated by the State Department and the National Oceanic
and Atmospheric Administration.
Consideration of H. Con. Res. 8 deliberately coincides with
the designation of 1997 as the International Year of the Reef
(IYOR) by the international community of scientists,
policymakers, natural resource managers, and coral reef
advocates. The goal of IYOR is to promote public awareness of
issues pertaining to coral reef ecosystems, through a year-long
worldwide campaign of briefings, workshops, and related
initiatives. Major participants in IYOR activities include the
American Zoo and Aquarium Association, Center for Marine
Conservation, Environmental Defense Fund, World Conservation
Union, Nature Conservancy, Smithsonian Institution, World
Wildlife Fund, and over thirty other zoos and aquariums,
conservation societies, trade organizations, universities and
H. Con. Res. 8 was introduced on January 9, 1997, by
Congressman Jim Saxton (R-NJ), Chairman, Subcommittee on
Fisheries Conservation, Wildlife and Oceans; and Congressman
Neil Abercrombie (D-HI), Ranking Minority Member, Subcommittee
on Fisheries Conservation, Wildlife and Oceans. The bill was
referred to the Committee on Resources, and within the
Committee to the Subcommittee on Fisheries Conservation,
Wildlife and Oceans. On March 13, 1997, the Subcommittee held a
hearing on H. Con. Res. 8, where testimony was received from
Mr. Terry Garcia, Acting Assistant Secretary for Oceans and
Atmosphere, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration;
Ms. Barbara Jeanne Polo, Policy Director, American Oceans
Campaign; Dr. Robert Ginsburg, Chairman, International Year of
the Reef Organizing Committee; and Dr. James Porter, University
of Georgia. On March 19, 1997, the Subcommittee met to mark up
H. Con. Res. 8. Three amendments to make minor changes to the
language of the resolution, its preamble, and its title were
offered by Mr. Saxton, and adopted by voice vote. The bill was
then ordered favorably reported to the Full Committee. On April
16, 1997, the Full Resources Committee met to consider H. Con.
Res. 8. No new amendments were offered and the bill, as
amended, was passed by voice vote and ordered favorably
reported to the House of Representatives.
committee oversight findings and recommendations
With respect to the requirements of clause 2(l)(3) of rule
XI of the Rules of the House of Representatives, and clause
2(b)(1) of rule X of the Rules of the House of Representatives,
the Committee on Resources' oversight findings and
recommendations are reflected in the body of this report.
constitutional authority statement
Article I, section 8 of the Constitution of the United
States grants Congress the authority to enact H. Con. Res. 8.
cost of the legislation
Clause 7(a) of rule XIII of the Rules of the House of
Representatives requires an estimate and a comparison by the
Committee of the costs which would be incurred in carrying out
H. Con. Res. 8. However, clause 7(d) of that rule provides that
this requirement does not apply when the Committee has included
in its report a timely submitted cost estimate of the bill
prepared by the Director of the Congressional Budget Office
under section 403 of the Congressional Budget Act of 1974.
COMPLIANCE WITH HOUSE RULE XI
1. With respect to the requirement of clause 2(l)(3)(B) of
rule XI of the Rules of the House of Representatives and
section 308(a) of the Congressional Budget Act of 1974, H. Con.
Res. 8 does not contain any new budget authority, spending
authority, credit authority, or an increase or decrease in
revenues or tax expenditures.
2. With respect to the requirement of clause 2(l)(3)(D) of
rule XI of the Rules of the House of Representatives, the
Committee has received no report of oversight findings and
recommendations from the Committee on Government Reform and
Oversight on the subject of H. Con. Res. 8.
3. With respect to the requirement of clause 2(l)(3)(C) of
rule XI of the Rules of the House of Representatives and
section 403 of the Congressional Budget Act of 1974, the
Committee has received the following cost estimate for H. Con.
Res. 8 from the Director of the Congressional Budget Office.
congressional budget office cost estimate
Congressional Budget Office,
Washington, DC, April 18, 1997.
Hon. Don Young,
Chairman, Committee on Resources,
House of Representatives, Washington, DC.
Dear Mr. Chairman: The Congressional Budget Office has
reviewed H. Con. Res. 8, a concurrent resolution recognizing
the significance of maintaining the health and stability of
coral reef ecosystems, as ordered reported by the Committee on
Resources on April 16, 1997.
CBO estimates that adoption of this resolution would have
no effect on the federal budget. H. Con. Res. 8 would express
Congressional commitment to promoting stewardship of coral reef
habitats; encouraging research, monitoring, assessment, and
education about reef ecosystems; and improving the coordination
of coral reef activities among federal agencies, academic
institutions, nongovernmental organizations, and industry.
Coral reefs serve as habitats for many species of marine life
and are located in coastal waters off several states and U.S.
If you wish further details on this estimate, we will be
pleased to provide them. The CBO staff contact is Gary Brown.
This estimate was approved by Robert A. Sunshine, Deputy
Assistant Director for Budget Analysis.
James L. Blum
(For June E. O'Neill, Director).
compliance with public law 104-4
H. Con. Res. 8 contains no unfunded mandates.
changes in existing law
If enacted, H. Con. Res. 8 would make no changes in