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PROCLAMATION: Establishment of the Virgin Islands Coral Reef National Monument

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                              THE WHITE HOUSE

                       Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release                            January 17, 2001

                       CORAL REEF NATIONAL MONUMENT

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                              A PROCLAMATION

     The Virgin Islands Coral Reef National Monument, in the submerged
lands off the island of St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands, contains all
the elements of a Caribbean tropi-cal marine ecosystem.  This designation
furthers the protection of the scientific objects included in the Virgin
Islands National Park, created in 1956 and expanded in 1962.  The
biological communities of the monument live in a fragile, interdependent
relationship and include habitats essential for sustaining and enhancing
the tropical marine ecosystem:  mangroves, sea grass beds, coral reefs,
octocoral hardbottom, sand communities, shallow mud and fine sediment
habitat, and algal plains.  The fishery habitats, deeper coral reefs,
octocoral hardbottom, and algal plains of the monument are all objects of
scientific interest and essential to the long-term sustenance of the
tropical marine ecosystem.

     The monument is within the Virgin Islands, which lie at the heart of
the insular Caribbean biome, and is representative of the Lesser Antillean
biogeographic province.  The island of St. John rises from a platform that
extends several miles from shore before plunging to the abyssal depths of
the Anegada trough to the south and the Puerto Rican trench to the north,
the deepest part of the Atlantic Ocean.  This platform contains a multitude
of species that exist in a delicate balance, interlinked through complex
relationships that have developed over tens of thousands of years.

     As part of this important ecosystem, the monument contains biological
objects including several threatened and endangered species, which forage,
breed, nest, rest, or calve in the waters.  Humpback whales, pilot whales,
four species of dolphins, brown pelicans, roseate terns, least terns, and
the hawksbill, leatherback, and green sea turtles all use portions of the
monument.  Countless species of reef fish, invertebrates, and plants
utilize these submerged lands during their lives, and over 25 species of
sea birds feed in the waters.  Between the nearshore nursery habitats and
the shelf edge spawning sites in the monument are habitats that play
essential roles during specific developmental stages of reef-associated
species, including spawning migrations of many reef fish species and

     The submerged monument lands within Hurricane Hole include the most
extensive and well-developed mangrove habitat on St. John.  The Hurricane
Hole area is an important nursery area for reef associated fish and
invertebrates, instrumental in maintaining water quality by filtering and
trapping sediment and debris in fresh water runoff from the fast land, and
essen-tial to the overall functioning and productivity of regional
fisheries.  Numerous coral reef-associated species, including the spiny
lobster, queen conch, and Nassau grouper, transform from planktonic larvae
to bottom-dwelling juveniles in the shallow nearshore habitats of Hurricane
Hole.  As they mature, they move offshore and take up residence in the
deeper coral patch reefs, octocoral hardbottom, and algal plains of the
submerged monument lands to the south and north of St. John.

     The monument lands south of St. John are predominantly deep algal
plains with scattered areas of raised hard bottom.  The algal plains
include communities of mostly red and cal-careous algae with canopies as
much as half a meter high.  The raised hard bottom is sparsely colonized
with corals, sponges, gorgonians, and other invertebrates, thus providing
shelter for lobster, groupers, and snappers as well as spawning sites for
some reef fish species.  These algal plains and raised hard bottom areas
link the shallow water reef, sea grass, and mangrove communities with the
deep water shelf and shelf edge communities of fish and invertebrates.

     Section 2 of the Act of June 8, 1906 (34 Stat. 225, 16 U.S.C. 431),
authorizes the President, in his discretion, to declare by public
proclamation historic landmarks, historic and prehistoric structures, and
other objects of historic or scientific interest that are situated upon the
lands owned or controlled by the Government of the United States to be
national monuments, and to reserve as a part thereof parcels of land, the
limits of which in all cases shall be confined to the smallest area
compatible with the proper care and management of the objects to be

     WHEREAS it appears that it would be in the public interest to reserve
such lands as a national monument to be known as the Virgin Islands Coral
Reef National Monument:

     NOW, THEREFORE, I, WILLIAM J. CLINTON, President of the United States
of America, by the authority vested in me by section 2 of the Act of June
8, 1906 (34 Stat. 225, 16 U.S.C. 431), do proclaim that there are hereby
set apart and reserved as the Virgin Islands Coral Reef National Monument,
for the purpose of protecting the objects identified above, all lands and
interests in lands owned or controlled by the United States within the
boundaries of the area described on the map entitled "Virgin Islands Coral
Reef National Monument" attached to and forming a part of this
proclamation.  The Federal land and interests in land reserved consist of
approximately 12,708 marine acres, which is the smallest area compatible
with the proper care and management of the objects to be protected.

     All Federal lands and interests in lands within the boundaries of this
monument are hereby appropriated and withdrawn from all forms of entry,
location, selection, sale, or leasing or other disposition under the public
land laws, including but not limited to withdrawal from location, entry,
and patent under the mining laws, and from disposition under all laws
relating to mineral and geothermal leasing, other than by exchange that
furthers the protective purposes of the monument.  For the purpose of
protecting the objects identified above, the Secretary shall prohibit all
boat anchoring, except for emergency or authorized administrative purposes.

     For the purposes of protecting the objects identified above, the
Secretary shall prohibit all extractive uses, except that the Secretary may
issue permits for bait fishing at Hurricane Hole and for blue runner (hard
nose) line fishing in the area south of St. John, to the extent that such
fishing is consistent with the protection of the objects identified in this

     Lands and interests in lands within the monument not owned or
controlled by the United States shall be reserved as a part of the monument
upon acquisition of title or control thereto by the United States.

     The Secretary of the Interior shall manage the monument through the
National Park Service, pursuant to applicable legal authorities, to
implement the purposes of this proclamation.  The National Park Service
will manage the monument in a manner consistent with international law.

     The Secretary of the Interior shall prepare a management plan,
including the management of vessels in the monument, within 3 years, which
addresses any further specific actions necessary to protect the objects
identified in this proclamation.

     The establishment of this monument is subject to valid existing

     Nothing in this proclamation shall be deemed to revoke any existing
withdrawal, reservation, or appropriation; however, the national monument
shall be the dominant reservation.

     Warning is hereby given to all unauthorized persons not to
appropriate, injure, destroy, or remove any feature of this monument and
not to locate or settle upon any of the lands thereof.

     IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this
seventeenth day of January, in the year of our Lord two thousand one, and
of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and

                              WILLIAM J. CLINTON

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