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Hawaii tsunami preparedness, coral reefs garner federal funding

Federal funding for ocean and coastal conservation, including $1 million to preserve Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument, was approved in the commerce, science, and justice appropriations bill for fiscal year 2019, according to U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz.

More than $31 million will also go toward the improvement of tsunami warnings and nearly $30 million to protect coral reefs in Hawaii and across the country. Another $8 million will continue to support the conservation of Hawaiian monk seals and sea turtles.

“We were successful at including more federal funding to help us manage Papahanaumokuakea and protect our coral reefs,” said Schatz, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, in a news release. “This bill also funds our tsunami warning system so that we can strengthen tsunami forecasting and better protect Hawaii’s coastal communities.”

Among the appropriations secured in the bill were:

>> $1 million for Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument. The bill authorizes the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to offer a competitive grant of up to $1 million for research and management activities in Papahanaumokuakea. The funding is subject to a 100 percent non-federal match.

>> $31.6 million for the NOAA Tsunami Program. The program funds preparedness activities such as inundation mapping, disaster planning and tsunami education. Schatz said he helped to protect funding for this critical program despite deep cuts proposed by President Donald Trump.

>> $28.6 million for coral reef conservation. The funding will go toward NOAA’s Coral Reef Conservation program, which provides funding to state agencies and community organizations in Hawaii and other coastal states to remove invasive species, reduce land-based sources of pollution, and restore fisheries, fishponds, and coral reefs.

>> $8 million for the protection of endangered Hawaiian monk seals and sea turtles. The funding will continue to support the conservation and recovery of Hawaiian monk seals, endemic to Hawaii. Funding will also support sea turtle conservation activities, including technical assistance on marine turtle by-catch reduction strategies, stock assessments and scientific research projects.

>> $71 million for the National Sea Grant Program. The funding will help support the National Sea Grant Program, including the University of Hawaii Sea Grant College Program, which conducts research and education on the stewardship of coastal and marine resources.

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