The U.S. Department of the Interior has awarded the USVI $103,000 to help mitigate harmful red algae on corals and support reef responsible sustainable seafood production, DOI announced Friday.
“These projects will help Virgin Islanders protect their unique resources by addressing some of the current threats,” Interior Acting Assistant Secretary for Insular Areas Nikolao Pula said in a statement.
The V.I. Department of Planning and Natural Resources is granted $103,000 to:
— Address the emerging threat of red algae called Ramicrusta on coral reefs in the territory. The goal is to characterize its abundance and behavior while exploring options for management and mitigation. Red algae interactions with live coral colonies have caused bleaching and complete mortality. The red algae overgrowth has already affected three endangered coral species and the threatened elkhorn and staghorn corals in waters surrounding the territory.
— Market and advertise the Reef Responsible Sustainable Seafood Initiative to promote preservation, moderation and conservation of certain critical seafood stock in the territory. Marketing to encourage voluntary compliance with regulations and to reduce unsustainable fishing practices in the local population will include signs, radio jingles, social media ads and a music video similar to the new “Conch Gone” Youtube video hit in the Bahamas.
— Build capacity of local natural resource management and support partnerships and information sharing through forums such as the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force Meetings which include leaders of 12 Federal agencies; two U.S. States; five Territories and Commonwealths; and three Freely Associated States. The task force helps build partnerships, strategies, and support for on-the-ground action to conserve coral reefs.
All funding for cultural and natural resources protection and management was provided under what was formerly called the Coral Reef Initiative and is available under CFDA# 15.875 at https://www.grants.gov/. All four U.S. territories of the U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Guam, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands as well as the three freely associated states of the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Republic of Palau are eligible to apply.
Discretionary funding provided by the Office of Insular Affairs in the Department of the Interior is appropriated annually by the U.S. Congress to help address needs in the U.S. Insular Areas.