At a ceremony Thursday in Veracruz, Mexico, Coastal America designated the Acuario de Veracruz, the Veracuz Aquarium, as its first International Coastal Ecosystem Learning Center.
Bryon Griffith, director of the U.S. EPA's Gulf of Mexico Program and chair of the Gulf of Mexico Governor’s Alliance Federal Working Group, presented the federal partnership commitments to the Veracruz Aquarium.
Deputy Secretary of the Interior Lynn Scarlett represented the Coastal America federal agencies and the White House Council on Environmental Quality at the ceremony.
Veracruz Governor Fidel Herrera Beltran and Mexican Environment Secretary Dr. Martin Vargas Priesto were in attendance.
The commitments include library and educational materials, an ocean news kiosk, exhibit development and educational curriculum, seminar exchange programs and technical support.
In addition, five Coastal Ecosystem Learning Centers, CELCs, have committed to provide staff training and educational resources in areas of importance to the Acuario de Veracruz.
The Corporate Wetlands Restoration Partnership, a private-public partnership, will provide travel support so that the staff of the Acuario de Veracruz can travel to its CELC partners for training.
'As a Coastal Ecosystem Learning Center, the Acuario de Veracruz will join a network of aquaria delivering a strong public message about the importance of our coastal resources,' said Scarlett.
A nonprofit institution that opened in 1992, Acuario de Veracruz houses nearly 2,200 aquatic animals from around the world in more than 1.2 million gallons of fresh and marine water.
President of the Acuario de Veracruz Marcelino Fernández Rivero said, 'The common focus on environmental education is tremendously important and the Learning Center network has shown its dedication to this effort. We are looking forward to contributing our resources, knowledge, and regional diversity to further achieve environmental awareness and stewardship among the public.'
Representing the CELC network, Jerry Schubel, president of the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, California, said, 'As we must all work together to protect our one ocean and one planet, we are excited that the citizens of Mexico will have access to the resources and educational information of the Veracruz Aquarium.'
The Coastal Ecosystem Learning Center network was established in 1996 by Coastal America, an interagency federal partnership that works to protect, preserve and restore the nation’s coastal ecosystems.
The federal partners are the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Energy, Housing and Urban Development, the Interior, State, Transportation, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Executive Office of the President, as well as the Defense Department, the Air Force, the Army, and the Navy.