Monday, October 18, 2010

Guam, protecting reefs from the US Navy

Islands Business: Guam Governor Felix P. Camacho summed it up best when he said that the US military buildup “is the largest threat to coral reefs” on his island. Other Micronesian islands echoed his sentiment, which helped set the tone at the 2010 US Coral Reef Taskforce Meeting held on Saipan from September 15 and 16.

The US Coral Reef Taskforce is one of the foremost policy groups guiding national and international coral reef conservation. Among the major projects related to the military buildup in Guam that will impact coral reefs is a deep-draft wharf for transiting aircraft carriers.

The US Navy earlier chose the Polaris Point in Guam’s Apra Harbor as its preferred site for a carrier berth. But the Record of Decision for the Guam and CNMI military buildup’s final environmental impact statement, signed on September 21, noted that the Navy had deferred making a decision on a specific location for a transient CVN berth in Apra Harbor and voluntarily collected additional data on marine resources in the two alternative site locations.

Camacho asked the US Coral Reef Taskforce to help Guam come up with the best possible mitigation strategies for its coral reefs during the military buildup. “The members have the ability to direct resources to this important and urgent task, and techniques and strategies developed for Guahan could have future uses in other locations facing major development as well,” he said.

But Capt. Peter S. Lynch, commanding officer of the US Naval Facilities Engineering Command, said it’s not only the military buildup that’s impacting coral reefs, citing runoff from a construction site or wastewater treatment that’s not properly treated could create algae plumes….

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