Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Obama Wants to Create World's Largest Marine Sanctuary in the Pacific

Obama Wants to Create World's Largest Marine Sanctuary in the Pacific

About two weeks after using executive authority to propose rules to protect the air, President Barack Obama announced similar action regarding a large stretch of the Pacific Ocean.

The president wants to create the world's largest marine sanctuary, he said in a video produced specifically for the U.S. State Department's Our Ocean conference, which concluded Tuesday.

“Let’s make sure that years from now we can look our children in the eye and tell them that, yes, we did our part, we took action, and we led the way toward a safer, more stable world,” Obama said.

Obama's plan would expand the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument, created five years ago with waters previously set aside by President George W. Bush that, according to The Associated Press, encircle an array of remote islands in the south-central Pacific, between Hawaii and American Samoa. Obama will consult scientists, fishermen and conservation experts before establishing boundaries, but many expect him to double the amount of protected ocean.

If the president includes waters around other U.S. islands in the Pacific Ocean, he could protect nearly nine times the amount Bush set aside, totaling more than 780,000 square miles, according to the Pew Charitable Trusts.

The president stressed the importance of ocean protection for the animals who live there, as well as for humans.  The expansion would mean five times more underwater mountains will be protected, Greenpeace estimates. It will end tuna fishing in the area, as well as providing safe harbor to whales, sea turtles, sharks and other marine mammals. He is also directing the creation of a national strategy to combat black-market fishing.

Graphic credit: Greenpeace

“We applaud President Obama’s proposal to expand the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument,” Anna Aurilio, director of the Washington D.C. office for Environment America, said in a statement.  “It’s a great thing that more pristine ocean and Pacific ecosystems will be protected."

Still, Aurilio implored the administration to keep other portions of the oceans safe by not opening them to drilling, as suggested by a plan announced last week by the U.S. Department of Interior.

Greenpeace also wasn't completely bullish on the plan.

"You won’t hear the sound of champagne popping coming from the Greenpeace offices," John Hocevar wrote in a blog post. "There’s a lot this expansion doesn’t do—and we’re going to keep on pressing. For starters, the Bering Sea canyons near Alaska support one of the most productive ecosystems in our oceans but are still completely unprotected.

"Sensitive coral and sponge habitats are being destroyed by the wanton practices of factory fishing. Protecting these cold water canyons would be a great complement to Obama’s plans in the tropical Pacific."

Still, both organizations were more pleased with the announcement than not. Obama's brief video discussed what would happen if he declined action.

"If we ignore these problems, if we drain our oceans of their resources, we won't just be squandering one of humanity's greatest treasures," Obama said. "We'll be cutting off one of the world's major sources of food and economic growth, including for the United States.

"We cannot afford to let that happen."

 

Pexels

By Jessica Corbett

A new study is shedding light on just how much ice could be lost around Antarctica if the international community fails to urgently rein in planet-heating emissions, bolstering arguments for bolder climate policies.

The study, published Thursday in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, found that over a third of the area of all Antarctic ice shelves — including 67% of area on the Antarctic Peninsula — could be at risk of collapsing if global temperatures soar to 4°C above pre-industrial levels.

Read More Show Less
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
Valley of the Gods in the heart of Bears Ears National Monument. Mint Images / Getty Images

By Sharon Buccino

This week, Secretary Haaland chose a visit to Bears Ears National Monument as her first trip as Interior Secretary. She is spending three days in Bluff, Utah, a small town just outside the monument, listening to representatives of the five tribes who first proposed its designation to President Obama in 2015. This is the same town where former Secretary Sally Jewell spent several hours at a public hearing in July 2016 before recommending the monument's designation to President Obama.

Read More Show Less
Trending
Pexels

By Anthony Richardson, Chhaya Chaudhary, David Schoeman, and Mark John Costello

The tropical water at the equator is renowned for having the richest diversity of marine life on Earth, with vibrant coral reefs and large aggregations of tunas, sea turtles, manta rays and whale sharks. The number of marine species naturally tapers off as you head towards the poles.

Read More Show Less
"Secrets of the Whales" is a new series that will start streaming on Disney+ on Earth Day. Disney+

In celebration of Earth Day, a star-studded cast is giving fans a rare glimpse into the secret lives of some of the planet's most majestic animals: whales. In "Secrets of the Whales," a four-part documentary series by renowned National Geographic Photographer and Explorer Brian Skerry and Executive Producer James Cameron, viewers plunge deep into the lives and worlds of five different whale species.

Read More Show Less
Spring is an excellent time to begin bird watching in earnest. Eugenio Marongiu / Cultura / Getty Images

The coronavirus has isolated many of us in our homes this year. We've been forced to slow down a little, maybe looking out our windows, becoming more in tune with the rhythms of our yards. Perhaps we've begun to notice more, like the birds hopping around in the bushes out back, wondering (maybe for the first time) what they are.

Read More Show Less