Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Environment

USA: Obama Promises to Double the World’s Marine Reserves

US President Barack Obama has promised to create the world’s largest marine protected area (MPA) in the centre of the Pacific Ocean – with or without the help of the Republicans

Typcial Pacific Ocean Scenery on Toberua Island - Photo Courtesy of Vladi Private Islands

Typcial Pacific Ocean Scenery on Toberua Island – Photo Courtesy of Vladi Private Islands

US President Obama has this week announced his intent to create the world’s largest Marine Protected Area (MPA) which – if successful –will see the surface area of the world’s marine reserves double in size whilst simultaneously putting an end to illegal fishing practices within the much-maligned region.

As reported on Tuesday within The Washington Post, the protected area will stretch over huge swathes of the central Pacific region, expanding an existing protected zone – the Pacific Remote Island Marine National Monument – from 225,000 km² to an incredible 2 million km² and taking in eleven islands and atolls along the way.

Announcing the decision at the State Department’s Our Ocean conference, President Obama spoke at length not only about his plans to use his executive authority in order to expand the existing marine protected but also about new strategies aimed to better police the area around the Pacific Remote Islands for signs of illegal fishing activities.

The President’s environmental advisor, John Podesta, told journalists at The Washington Post that the marine conservation initiative is planned to come into force towards the end of year, following the completion of a public consultation period which is currently scheduled for the summer of 2014.

The well-timed decision – announced just weeks after the United Nations Environment Program declared the world’s oceans, islands and low lying states to be a matter of utmost importance – forms a major statement of intent for a government which has so-far done very little to address ocean-related environmental concerns.

The decision to create this new MPA has been warmly received by environmentalists the world over. Emily Woglom, vice president for conservation and policy at the Ocean Conservancy, said in a statement that Obama’s announcement “shows that the President is turning his attention to his Blue Legacy,” whereas Beth Lowel of the Oceana conservation group declared the move to be a “historic step”.

And whilst critics have been quick to dismiss the plans as an attempt to curry political favour, it is perhaps worth remembering that the roots of this environmental movement actually hark back to former Republican President George W. Bush, who, despite his reputation for favouring industry over environmental concerns, actually created more protection zones than any other president in US political history – a timely reminder that environmental concerns affects us all – regardless of the political divide.

Private Island News promises to bring you more news and analysis regarding President Obama’s extension of the Remote Pacific Islands National Marine Monument as soon as it arises. Check our social media pages (Facebook, Twitter, Google+) for the latest updates.

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