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U.S. Pledges $40 Million To Protect Asian Coral Reefs; 'We Can Save These Extraordinary Marine Ecosystems'

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MANILA, The Philippines -- The United States Thursday pledged 40 million dollars to help save the Coral Triangle, the world's largest expanse of mangrove, coral reef and fish biodiversity, covering six nations.

US Ambassador to the Philippines Kristie Kenney made the announcement at the on-going second Coral Triangle Initiative (CTI) senior officials' meeting in Manila attended by representatives of East Timor, Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines and the Solomon Islands.

The CTI seeks to protect 6 million square kilometres of ocean and coasts that has been called the "Amazon of the Seas" for its biodiversity.

The Coral Triangle, where the Indian and the Pacific oceans meet, is home to the 30 per cent of the world's coral reefs and represents 75 per cent of the known coral species.

The area is under threat from pollution, unsustainable fishing practices and climate change.

"A cross-border effort like the CTI is vital to restore the Coral Triangle's ecosystems," said Olivier Carduner, director of USAID's regional development mission for Asia.

"By coordinating our efforts, leveraging our funds, uniting our political will and reaching out to key stakeholders, we can save these extraordinary marine ecosystems," he added.

Aside from the US, the Asian Development Bank, the Global Environment Facility, the United Nations Development Program, the Food and Agriculture Organization, the World Bank, the Australian government and the Walton Family Foundation were also helping in the protection of the Coral Triangle.

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