Washington, DC -
08/25/2008 - Joshua S. Reichert, managing director of the Pew Environment Group, issued the following statement in response to President Bush’s announcement today of three new areas in U.S. ocean waters that will be assessed for possible protection as marine sanctuaries or monuments.
“Two years ago President Bush set a new standard for global ocean protection when he established the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, the largest marine protected area in the world, in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. Today’s announcement by the White House of another group of sites in U.S. waters that will be assessed for possible protection is a hopeful sign for ocean conservation.
“Monument or sanctuary designation by itself does not necessarily convey a high degree of protection, and could allow a host of activities including commercial and recreational fishing, and deep sea mining, among others. However, if the president establishes these new sites as no take reserves, where no extractive activity is allowed, it would be one of the most significant environmental achievements of any U.S. President.
“One of the potential sites is in the waters off the Northern Mariana Islands in the Pacific. In addition to containing some of the world’s most unspoiled ocean habitats and unique species of marine life, this area encompasses the world’s deepest canyon, the Mariana Trench, which at nearly 36,000 feet, could swallow Mt. Everest with room to spare. Protecting places such as these preserves their unique biological and ecological characteristics, increases the abundance of fish and other marine life, and often creates a source of economic vitality for the local area through jobs generated by tourism, research and education, and monument management.
“Overfishing, pollution, coastal development, climate change and other threats are pushing our oceans to the brink of collapse. If the president moves ahead and designates these sites as fully protected no take reserves, he will have preserved more of the world’s oceans in the form of reserves than any other person in history, and will have led the nation into a new era of ocean conservation.”
Please go to www.globaloceanlegacy.org for more information, maps and photographs.
Photo on previous page courtesy of the NOAA Submarine Ring of Fire 2004 Exploration and the NOAA Vents Program