February 26, 1999
MEDIA CONTACT: Kirsten Birkeland, 360/546-9602, birkelan@vancouver.wsu.edu
Bruce Babbit expected to attend
        VANCOUVER, Wash. -- A marine biologist will be leaving his Washington State University at Vancouver office for the sunny climes of Hawaii next week. He will share his expertise with U.S. Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt and others as the U.S. Task Force on Marine Conservation gathers on the island of Maui to discuss how to conserve and protect the nation's coral reefs.
        WSU Vancouver professor Brian Tissot is one of 12 marine conservation experts from around the country invited to speak at the Center for Marine Conservation Symposium March 5-7 in Wailea, Maui. Hosted by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the symposium is an informational session to the U.S. Task Force on Marine Conservation, an advisory body created by President Clinton last year to oversee coral reef conservation in the United States. In addition to Babbitt, the task force includes U.S. Secretary of Commerce William Daley and representatives from the Environmental Protection Agency, NOAA and Department of the Interior.
        The focus on coral reefs is an important one, says Tissot, noting that the areas are, in many ways, similar to the world's rainforests.
        "These environments contain thousands of species that have yet to be identified. And, just like the rain forest, the coral reefs contain some significant sources of pharmaceutical knowledge that can never be duplicated," he said. "Conserving and protecting these areas is extremely important."
        The trip to Hawaii will be a familiar one for Tissot, who joined WSU Vancouver this fall after spending six years on the faculty at the University of Hawaii at Hilo, where he conducted research on the ecology of coral reefs. He is currently working with NOAA to monitor long-term community level changes and biological impacts related to coral reef communities in Hawaii. He is the coordinator of science programs at WSU Vancouver, and recently helped institute a new program in natural resource sciences.
        WSU Vancouver provides junior-, senior- and graduate-level courses to approximately 1,500 students on its 351-acre campus seven miles north of the Vancouver-Portland metropolitan area.

Editor's Note:
Brian Tissot can be reached by phone at 360/546-9611 or by e-mail at tissot@vancouver.wsu.edu. He departs for Hawaii the morning of March 3.


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