President Obama announced on Tuesday that he intends to create the world’s largest marine protected area in the south-central Pacific Ocean, the New York Times reports. According to The Washington Post, this will double the area of ocean globally that is fully protected, making the area out of bounds to various activities such as commercial fishing and energy exploration.
“Growing up in Hawaii, I learned early to appreciate the beauty and power of the ocean,” Obama said at a White House event on Tuesday. “And like Presidents Clinton and Bush before me, I’m going to use my authority as president to protect some of our most precious marine landscapes, just like we do for mountains and rivers and forests.”
This statement comes just one week after the NOAA announce that the American public can nominate marine and Great Lakes areas that they believe should be classified as national marine sanctuaries. It’s a good week for our oceans.
Although the exact size of the protected area has not yet been defined, protection will come into force later on this year after a comment period. During this time the White House will involve numerous groups in drawing up the final plan including environmentalists, the fishing industry and government officials.
This announcement is part of a broad effort by the United States aimed at protecting our oceans and more plans are expected to be revealed this week. Secretary of State, John Kerry, is fronting the oceans initiative and is calling on a concerted effort to protect our oceans.
“Most people think the ocean is larger than life, an endless resource impossible to destroy. But people underestimate the enormous damage that we as humans are inflicting on the ocean every day,” Kerry said in a keynote speech. “We run the risk of fundamentally breaking the entire ecosystems.”
Not everyone agrees with the move, however, and Republican legislators have already slated the move, complaining that it will block commercial activity such as oil and gas drilling.