News / USA

US Proposal Would Create World's Largest Marine Sanctuary

Kiribati's President Anote Tong delivers opening remarks at the
Kiribati's President Anote Tong delivers opening remarks at the "Our Ocean" conference at the State Department in Washington, June 16, 2014.
VOA News
U.S. President Barack Obama announced a plan on Tuesday to create the world's largest marine preserve, significantly expanding a remote region of the Pacific Ocean where drilling, fishing and other commercial activities are prohibited.

Obama announced the proposal in a video at the U.S. State Department's Our Ocean conference in Washington.

“If we drain our oceans of the resources, we won’t just be squandering one of humanity’s greatest treasures.  We’ll be cutting off one of the world’s major sources of food and economic growth, including for the United States," he said. "And we can’t afford to let that happen.”

Carbon pollution is making the world's oceans more acidic, pollution is threatening marine life and overfishing could wipe out entire species, Obama said in his videotaped announcement.
 
“If we ignore these problems, if we drain our oceans of their resources, we won't just be squandering one of humanity's greatest treasures,” Obama said. “We'll be cutting off one of the world's major sources of food and economic growth, including for the United States. We cannot afford to let that happen.”

Using presidential authority that doesn't require new action from Congress, Obama said he was seeking the protection for "some of our most precious marine landscapes," just as Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton have done.

The White House said the president is seeking to protect waters in the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument, located in the south-central Pacific Ocean, between Hawaii and the U.S. territory of American Samoa. 

Officials said the exact boundaries of the preserve have not been set, but that Obama could expand the protected area already in place from 225,000 square kilometers to more than two million.

The area would be off-limits to drilling, fishing and other actions that threaten fragile marine life, White House officials said.
 
President Barack Obama Talks About his Oceans Protection Proposali
X
June 17, 2014 3:55 PM
US President Barack Obama talks about his oceans proposal.

Obama, who grew up in Hawaii, also called for the government to create a program to deter black market fishing as a way to further protect marine life.

“Today, I am building on that progress by directing the federal government to create a national strategy to combat black market fishing that threatens our oceans, undermines our economy and often supports dangerous criminals,” the president said.

Black market fishing and seafood fraud, in which seafood products are mislabeled to hide where they were harvested, cost the legitimate fishing industry $23 billion a year, the White House said, as reported by the AP.

It’s expected that Obama’s executive action to protect the underwater Pacific will run into vigorous opposition from members of the deep sea fishing industry, including anglers who catch tuna, as well as some members of Congress.

Republican Congressman Doc Hastings of Washington State called the zoning proposal a “unilateral action” by an “imperial president” to impose new regulations and restrictions on economic activities, including fishing, recreation and energy production.

Hastings, who heads the House Natural Resources Committee, accuses the president of “blatant disregard” for possible economic consequences.

The Pacific Ocean Sanctuary plan could go into effect later this year following a public comment period.

The Washington Post first reported on the adminstration’s plan on Tuesday.

Actor urges conservation

Actor and philanthropist Leonardo DiCaprio also addressed the Our Ocean conference on Tuesday.

DiCaprio announced that his foundation, which provides grants for environmental and humanitarian issues, was committing $7 million toward ocean conservation projects over the next two years.

He said the money was available to organizations, communities or nations to establish meaningful ocean reserves.

“We cannot afford to be bystanders,” he said. “We need to step up now” to protect the oceans.

But, he added, none of these measures can be implemented without proper world leadership in conservation.

"Unfortunately today there's no proper law-enforcement capacity and little accountability for violating the law," DiCaprio said. "It's the Wild West on the high seas. The ocean is an under-regulated marketplace right now.

"Even though the ocean covers 71 percent of our planet, less than 1 percent are fully protected as marine reserves where fishing is prohibited," he added.

On Monday, opening the conference, Kerry called for a global effort to protect the oceans, which he said were under threat from too much fishing, acidification from climate change, and marine pollution.

Kerry called for all nations to move beyond talks and studies to taking specific steps toward a global agreement to protect the oceans.
 
Kiribati bans fishing

Also Monday, Kiribati President Anote Tong announced that despite concerns about the economic fallout, all commercial fishing would be banned from January 2015 in the Phoenix Islands protected area.
 
"Addressing the challenges of climate change calls for very serious commitment and sacrifice," Tong said, according to the French news agency AFP.
 
"The projected loss of revenue weighed very significantly in our consideration, but in the final analysis we made the decision to persist with effective sustainable strategies," he said to loud applause.
 
Environmentalists say the Phoenix Islands, one of the world's largest marine-protected areas rich in ocean life, provide shelter for such species as tunas and turtles, as well as reef fishes and sharks, AFP reported.

Jessica Berman contributed to this report from Washington D.C.  Some information for this report provided by AFP and AP.
 

You May Like

Video Iran Nuclear Deal Becomes US Campaign Issue

Voters in three crucial battleground states - Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania - overwhelmingly oppose nuclear deal with Iran More

With IS in Coalition Cross-Hairs, al-Qaida's Syria Affiliate Reemerges

Jabhat al-Nusra has rebounded, increasingly casting itself as a critical player in battle for Syria’s future More

Lessons Learned From Katrina, 10 Years Later

FEMA chief Craig Fugate says key changes include better preparation, improved coordination among state, federal assistance agencies More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Jam Handy from: Detroit, MI
June 17, 2014 10:39 AM
...and as Leonardo finished his speech about protecting the environment, he loaded back onto his private jet and took off... which exhaust fumes pollute more air quality per cubic foot then hundreds of automobiles... yeah, right Leo.... do something else for publicity, OK?

by: Truthseeker from: Uranus
June 17, 2014 10:18 AM
Obumble should concentrate on the pollution in D.C.
Lotta raw sewage flowing out of the white house, congress, the senate, the VA, Social Security, and the NSA, CIA, Homeland Insecurity, and so on, ad nauseum
In Response

by: Jam Handy from: Detroit, MI
June 17, 2014 10:42 AM
...and let's not ignore that all of the fisherman that once had a livelyhood by fishing these waters will now be added to our jobless numbers... yay, Obumble... do more stuff that put people out of work... nice.....

by: dancingfool50
June 17, 2014 10:13 AM
And about time too. Most people just do not care about our oceans or the declining fish populations evidenced by terrible pollution, over fishing with no thought to the future of our planet.
Go Obama!

by: bill from: rolan
June 17, 2014 9:57 AM
I don't think we should be able to walk on grass or take a breath of air. For God sake we are converting oxygen into CO2. Why don't all us worthless human beings just commit mass suicide so the earth can flourish. Oh, that's right, Washington is slowing taking care of that in the USA. At least the USA will be gone. That's a good start as far as this administration is concerned !!!!!!!!

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs