Just last week, President Obama officiated the massive expansion of the Papahānaumokuākea marine reserve that encompasses the volcanic isles of Hawaii, making it the largest protected area in the world. Clearly not satiated by just one enormous, record-breaking marine reserve, he’s at it again over in the Atlantic.
Yesterday he announced the creation of a new aquatic monument, 12,725 square kilometers (4,913 square miles) in area, off the coast of New England. The Connecticut-sized region contains three undersea crevasses deeper than the Grand Canyon and five vast undersea volcanic mounds that are home to extremely rare types of deep-sea corals and whales.
Fishing here will be restricted in order to allow marine populations to rebound after being impacted by the negative effects of man-made climate change, including warmer and more acidic waters. Pollution levels will be monitored in detail, and increased investment in scientific research in the region is also expected to be permitted.
The so-called Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument, the first of its kind in the Atlantic, were officially announced at the start of Our Oceans, a major world summit taking place yesterday and today in Washington DC focusing on ways to protect the world’s oceans and their biodiversity. US Secretary of State John Kerry, himself hailing from New England, will host the summit, which will feature ministers and representatives from over 90 countries, along with a plethora of environmental experts and activists.
“During our gatherings in 2014 and 2015, nations from across the world committed to designate over 6 million square kilometers [2.3 million square miles] of ocean as marine protected areas,” Kerry said, as reported by the Japan Times. “We will build on those achievements by announcing over 120 significant ocean conservation projects, including almost $2 billion in new pledges and commitments to protect more than 2 million square kilometers [0.8 million square miles] in new or expanded marine protected areas.”
President Obama’s keen to cement his environmentalist credentials before his second and final term comes to an end, and from the looks of things, he’s doing a pretty good job despite massive opposition in Congress. Along with the creation and expansion of enormous marine reserves, he’s also ratified the groundbreaking Paris agreement with China – something many thought would never happen.
In addition, he’s also created new national parks, established the first-ever national carbon pollution standards for power plants via the Clean Power Plan, made the largest investment in renewable energy in American history, opened up funding for advanced clean energy generation projects, reduced national air and water pollution, and permanently protected more than 105 million hectares (260 million acres) of America’s public land and waters – more than any other president in history.
Thanks, Obama. (Seriously.)