Thursday, January 25, 2001
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Posted on: Thursday, January 25, 2001

White House allows new coral reef reserve

By Susan Roth
Advertiser Washington Bureau

Previous stories:
Bush puts coral reef reserve in limbo
Future of bottom-fish market uncertain
Clinton protects remote reefs in Hawai'i
WASHINGTON — To federal officials’ surprise, the Bush administration has allowed the new coral reef reserve in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands to be established.

Late Tuesday, the Federal Register published former President Clinton’s executive order revising the plan for the 84-million-acre reserve, making it official.

Although federal officials believed that the new administration had suspended all of Clinton’s last-minute orders and regulations for further review, Frances McDonald, managing editor of the Federal Register, said yesterday that the hold applied only to regulations from federal agencies, not those from the White House.

"There’s been a lot of misinformation about what’s being held. It was a little confusing," said Roger B. Griffis, a spokesman with the Commerce Department’s National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration, which oversees the reserve.

"But we’re very pleased that the order has been published and the reserve is in effect as modified by President Clinton’s last executive order," Griffis said.

As revised by Clinton last week, the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Coral Reef Ecosystem Reserve caps commercial and recreational fishing and prohibits all fishing in parts of the ocean surrounding the chain of atolls and reefs that extends 1,200 miles northwest of the main Hawaiian Islands.

The plan allows Hawaiian subsistence and cultural uses of the area. The revisions allow access to some areas that were closed to all fishing and shut off a few other small areas to all human activity.

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