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Schatz-Rubio Legislation To Protect Coral Reefs Set To Become Law

Restoring Resilient Reefs Act Included In NDAA, Passes Senate, Heads To President’s Desk

WASHINGTON – Last night, the U.S. Senate passed the Restoring Resilient Reefs Act, bipartisan legislation authored by U.S. Senators Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) that will help protect coral reefs and advance coral reef stewardship. The legislation was included in the annual National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) and now heads to the president’s desk to be signed into law.

“Our coral reefs have been pushed to the brink of extinction, and we need to act now to save them. Our bill, which is now set to become law, puts federal funding in the hands of states and territories to manage and restore the coral reefs that our communities, oceans, and coasts depend on,” said Senator Schatz.

“I saw firsthand the devastated condition of our coral reefs when I toured the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, and I promised a comprehensive response. This new law will ensure federal agencies are partnering effectively with state and local governments and non-governmental organizations to restore our dwindling coral reefs. The Florida communities that rely on the health of these critical ecosystems cannot be left behind. This is a pivotal moment in the battle to save our corals and protect our coastal communities,” said Senator Rubio.

The Restoring Resilient Reefs Act increases authorizations for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Coral Reef Program from $16 million to $45 million annually. This landmark legislation also authorizes a state block grant program for $12 million annually to support state efforts to manage and restore coral reefs, and $4.5 million annually for Pacific and Atlantic coral reef cooperative institutes. Together, these provisions represent a major step forward for coral reef stewardship.