The Coral Reef Task Force: Protecting the Environment Through Executive Order

May 2000
ELR 10343
Robin Kundis Craig

Coral reefs are some of the most biologically diverse and economically productive ecosystems in the world, and there are approximately 4.2 million acres of coral reefs within the jurisdiction of the United States,1 located off the coasts of Florida, Hawaii, Texas, Louisiana, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, American Samoa, and various other American-held islands in the South Pacific.2 However, most of these reefs are suffering from environmental degradation. In 1998, the World Resources Institute concluded:

Most United States reefs are threatened. Almost all the reefs off the Florida coast are at risk from a range of factors, including runoff of fertilizers and pollutants from farms and coastal development. Close to half of Hawaii's reefs are threatened, while virtually all of Puerto Rico's reefs are at risk.3

Robin Kundis Craig is an Assistant Professor of Law at Western New England College School of Law. Professor Craig received her J.D. in 1996 from the Lewis & Clark School of Law, her Ph.D. in English Literature in 1993 from the University of California, and her M.A. in Writing About Science in 1986 from the Johns Hopkins University. Professor Craig can be contacted through e-mail at or the Internet at

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The Coral Reef Task Force: Protecting the Environment Through Executive Order

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