President Obama Announces Executive Actions To Preserve Oceans

President Obama announced a series of measures to protect the ocean today – he is using his executive authority "to protect some of our nation’s most precious marine landscapes." 

Obama made the announcement via video at the State Department’s "Our Oceans" conference, where leaders from 80 countries are in attendance. Protecting the ocean is a priority for Secretary of State John Kerry, who organized the summit to catalyze action on overfishing, pollution and ocean acidification.

"Americans depend on the ocean for food, jobs, and
recreation, but the health of our ocean is under threat on multiple fronts, from overfishing to carbon pollution," he says. He refers to the National Climate Assessment, which confirms the rise of sea levels and ocean acidification due to climate change, which is harming coral reefs, coastal shellfish beds and altering entire
marine ecosystems. And the black market fish trade is a major  
threat to the sustainability of our world’s fisheries, economies and to global security.

Obama wants to greatly expand the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument – which surrounds islands and atolls associated with the US in the central Pacific Ocean – and "contains some of the most pristine tropical marine environments in the
world. He proposes enlarging it from 87,000 square miles to nearly 782,000 square miles, but says he will first receive input from stakeholders, such as fishermen, scientists, and conservation experts.

This would expand one of four marine preserves set aside by President GW Bush during his final days, one of the few environmental bright spots in his presidency:

Marine Preserves

The executive order also takes aim at rampant seafood fraud and the global black market fish trade – which directing federal agencies to develop a comprehensive program that deters illegal fishing and preventing illegally caught fish from entering the US marketplace (20-32% of all wild-caught seafood!). 

It also sets up a process where the public to nominate areas they want to see protected off US coasts and in the Great Lakes.

Finally, the Department of Interior is providing $102 million to help the east coast build resilience by restoring flood plains and natural barriers, such as marshes and wetlands.

At the Our Oceans summit, the EU – which recently approved serious reforms to fishing practices – also called for the end of illegal fishing. It has banned imports from Belize, Cambodia and Guinea because of this, and has issued warning to eight other nations, reports The Washington Post (Ghana, Curaçao, South Korea, Fiji, Panama, Sri Lanka, Togo and Vanuatu).

The Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation announced it will spend $7 million over the next two years on marine conservation, adding to Bloomberg Philanthropies $53 million pledge

Read our article, California’s Marine Undersea Preserves Extends Along Entire Coast.

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