News / USA

    US Proposal Would Create World's Largest Marine Sanctuary

    Kiribati's President Anote Tong delivers opening remarks at the "Our Ocean" conference at the State Department in Washington, June 16, 2014.
    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 Democrats Clinton, Kaine Offer 'Very Different Vision' Than Trump

    In a jab at Trump, Clinton says her team wants to 'build bridges, not walls'; Obama Hails Kaine's record; Trump calls Kaine a 'job-killer'

    Turkey Wants Pakistan to Close Down institutions, Businesses Linked to Gulen

    Thousands of Pakistani students are enrolled in Gulen's commercial network of around two dozen institutions operating in Pakistan for over two decades

    AU Passport A Work in Progress

    Who will get the passport and what the benefits are still need to be worked out

    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.
    In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movementi
    X
    July 22, 2016 11:49 AM
    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Poor Residents in Cleveland Not Feeling High Hopes of Republican Convention

    With the Republican Party's National Convention underway in Cleveland, Ohio, delegates and visitors are gathered in the host city's downtown - waiting to hear from the party's presidential candidate, Donald Trump. But a few kilometers from the convention's venue, Cleveland's poorest residents are not convinced Trump or his policies will make a difference in their lives. VOA's Ramon Taylor spoke with some of these residents as well as some of the Republican delegates and filed this report.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video With Yosemite as Backdrop, Obama Praises National Parks

    Last month, President Barack Obama and his family visited some of the most beautiful national parks in the U.S. Using the majestic backdrop of a towering waterfall in California's Yosemite National Park, Obama praised the national park system which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. He talked about the importance of America’s “national treasures” and the need to protect them from climate change and other threats. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Counter-Islamic State Coalition Plots Next Steps

    As momentum shifts against Islamic State in Iraq, discussions are taking place about the next steps for driving the terrorist group from its final strongholds. Secretary of State John Kerry is hosting a counter-IS meeting at the State Department, a day after defense ministers from more than 30 countries reviewed and agreed upon a course of action. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb reports.
    Video

    Video Russia's Participation at Brazil Olympic Games Still In Question

    The International Olympic Committee has delayed a decision on whether to ban all Russian teams from competing in next month's Olympic Games in Brazil over allegations of an elaborate doping scheme. The World Anti-Doping Agency recently released an independent report alleging widespread doping by Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. So far, only Russian track and field athletes have been barred from the Summer Games in Brazil. VOA's Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.
    Video

    Video Millennials Could Determine Who Wins Race to White House

    With only four months to go until Americans elect a new president, one group of voters is getting a lot more attention these days: those ages 18 to 35, a generation known as millennials. It’s a demographic that some analysts say could have the power to decide the 2016 election. But a lot depends on whether they actually turn out to vote. VOA’s Alexa Lamanna reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora