Bush Touts Environmental Initiatives to Protect America's Waterways, Fisheries, Migratory Birds

President Bush went fishing Saturday. Before he did, he took action to protect migratory birds and two species of fish. VOA White House correspondent Scott Stearns has the story.

President Bush went fishing off the coast of Maryland's Eastern Shore under clear blue skies. The trip was to recognize America's recreational fishers who contribute more than $40 billion annually to the U.S. economy.

To help preserve that industry, the president signed an order better protecting two of America's most popular recreational fish, striped bass and red drum.

"These two species were once abundant in American waters, but their stocks have been over-fished," he said. "The executive order I sign will protect striped bass and red drum caught in federal waters by moving to prohibit their commercial sale. It will promote more accurate scientific records about fish population levels. And it will help the federal government work with state and local officials to find innovative ways to ensure these two species are conserved for future generations."

In his weekly radio address, Mr. Bush says the government will build a saltwater registry to collect information about local fish stocks.

During his day on the Eastern Shore, the president visited a research center for migratory birds where he spoke of working more closely with Mexico to conserve and restore habitats.

"Each year, more than 800 species of birds make their way south for the winter, and then return home to their breeding grounds the following spring. Their ability to survive these long journeys depends on stopover habitat," said President Bush. "Unfortunately, some of the areas where birds once stopped and rested on their great migrations have been lost to development. So we're working to protect these species by restoring or replacing their stopover habitats."

In the Democratic radio address, the president of the nonpartisan charity the March of Dimes called on Republicans and Democrats to compromise on legislation to expand health insurance coverage for children.

Dr. Jennifer Howse says the program known as CHIP is vital for families who cannot afford private insurance but earn too much to qualify for government-run Medicaid.

"We do not consider children's health a partisan issue. It is every family's issue and worry. That is why the March of Dimes stands ready to work with all members of Congress and the president to enact strong CHIP reauthorization legislation that will provide needed health coverage to pregnant women, infants, and children in families of the working poor," said Howse.

President Bush vetoed bipartisan legislation to expand the program because he says it would move people off private insurance and into government-run programs. He also opposes an increase in cigarette taxes to pay for it.

This week, members of the House of Representatives who voted for the new legislation failed to override the president's veto.

Mr. Bush has said he is willing to work with Congress to reach a compromise.

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