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Charlotte Amalie
Tuesday, June 28, 2022
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NOAA Grants to Help Nature Conservancy Protect Coral Reefs

Two National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) grants will help local organizations and government departments safeguard the territory’s marine resources.
One grant will help the St. Croix-based Nature Conservancy launch several efforts aimed at coral reef issues, while the second will help get the word out that it’s against V.I. law to remove shells, coral, sand, and other marine material and organisms from beaches and the sea—a fact that remains unknown to many visitors and tourists.
"Removing them is harmful to marine resources," Julie Wright, coordinator at the V.I. Resource Conservation and Development Council, said.
That grant is funneled through the Resource Conservation and Development Council to the V.I. Network of Environmental Educators, the UVI Marine Advisory Service and Planning and Natural Resources Department’s Coastal Zone Management Division.
The $45,000 grant will help those environmental organizations and agencies continue its "Leave Paradise in its Place" campaign.
The funding will allow the organizations and agencies to let visitors know the law by advertising in locally-distributed tourism magazines, on local hotel television channels, on cruise ships, and via give-away post cards. According to Wright, the funding will pay for public service announcements on radio stations and posters at airports, ferry terminals and the seaplane terminal. The grant money will also pay for a website.
In St. Croix, the money will pay for snorkel lessons at three hotels. The instruction will include information about the territorial prohibition against taking marine life from beaches and the sea.
According to Wright, the Transportation Security Administration and the U.S. Postal Service confiscated 1,400 pounds of sand, shells and other marine life between June and September 2008.
"It was returned to V.I. Fish and Wildlife," Wright said.
She said the prohibition comes under the territory’s Endangered and Indigenous Species Act.
The Nature Conservancy will get about $1 million to go toward various projects, the agency’s director of government relations, Aaron Hutchins, said.
"A lot of the stuff is focusing on near shore and coastal areas," he said.
The grant to the local branch of the Nature Conservancy is part of a four-year agreement between the organization and NOAA. The organization will get a total of $3.6 million to address the top three issues facing coral reefs in Florida, Hawaii, the Caribbean and the Pacific islands. A press release from the Nature Conservancy indicated those issues are climate change, overfishing, and land-based sources of pollution.
According to Hutchins, the projects include facilitating the V.I. Coral Reef Advisory Group, an organization that draws its membership from the territory’s coral reef scientists.
They also include helping Planning with its conservation-planning efforts, helping to develop the St. Thomas East End Reserve management plan, work on the St. Croix East End Marine Park Management Plan, creating high-resolution climate change models, working on a lionfish invasion strategy, and working on the territory’s coral-bleaching watch program, among others.

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Two National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) grants will help local organizations and government departments safeguard the territory's marine resources.
One grant will help the St. Croix-based Nature Conservancy launch several efforts aimed at coral reef issues, while the second will help get the word out that it's against V.I. law to remove shells, coral, sand, and other marine material and organisms from beaches and the sea—a fact that remains unknown to many visitors and tourists.
"Removing them is harmful to marine resources," Julie Wright, coordinator at the V.I. Resource Conservation and Development Council, said.
That grant is funneled through the Resource Conservation and Development Council to the V.I. Network of Environmental Educators, the UVI Marine Advisory Service and Planning and Natural Resources Department's Coastal Zone Management Division.
The $45,000 grant will help those environmental organizations and agencies continue its "Leave Paradise in its Place" campaign.
The funding will allow the organizations and agencies to let visitors know the law by advertising in locally-distributed tourism magazines, on local hotel television channels, on cruise ships, and via give-away post cards. According to Wright, the funding will pay for public service announcements on radio stations and posters at airports, ferry terminals and the seaplane terminal. The grant money will also pay for a website.
In St. Croix, the money will pay for snorkel lessons at three hotels. The instruction will include information about the territorial prohibition against taking marine life from beaches and the sea.
According to Wright, the Transportation Security Administration and the U.S. Postal Service confiscated 1,400 pounds of sand, shells and other marine life between June and September 2008.
"It was returned to V.I. Fish and Wildlife," Wright said.
She said the prohibition comes under the territory's Endangered and Indigenous Species Act.
The Nature Conservancy will get about $1 million to go toward various projects, the agency's director of government relations, Aaron Hutchins, said.
"A lot of the stuff is focusing on near shore and coastal areas," he said.
The grant to the local branch of the Nature Conservancy is part of a four-year agreement between the organization and NOAA. The organization will get a total of $3.6 million to address the top three issues facing coral reefs in Florida, Hawaii, the Caribbean and the Pacific islands. A press release from the Nature Conservancy indicated those issues are climate change, overfishing, and land-based sources of pollution.
According to Hutchins, the projects include facilitating the V.I. Coral Reef Advisory Group, an organization that draws its membership from the territory's coral reef scientists.
They also include helping Planning with its conservation-planning efforts, helping to develop the St. Thomas East End Reserve management plan, work on the St. Croix East End Marine Park Management Plan, creating high-resolution climate change models, working on a lionfish invasion strategy, and working on the territory's coral-bleaching watch program, among others.