• New White House Actions on Marine Protected Areas

    During the week of June 2014, the U.S. State Department hosted the “Our Ocean” conference, an international conference on sustainable fisheries, marine pollution, and ocean acidification. As part of the conference, the President announced several actions that the United States is taking with regard to its oceans and great lakes. These steps include:

    • New protections for world-class marine areas.

    • Combating black market fishing and supporting fishermen.

    • Establishing a pathway to new marine sanctuaries.

    • Meeting diverse coastal needs with regional marine planning.

    • Understanding the impacts of ocean acidification.

    • $102 million to build resilience in coastal communities.

    • Bolstering domestic shellfish aquaculture.

    • National Strategic Plan for Federal Aquaculture Research.

    The new protections for world-class marine areas expanded the Marine National Monument in the south-central Pacific Ocean. The White House described this action as follows:

    “New protections for world-class marine areas. The President today announced a commitment to use his authority to protect some of our most precious marine landscape just like he has for our mountains and rivers and forests. To meet the President’s commitment, the Administration will immediately consider how we might expand protections near the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument in the south-central Pacific Ocean, an area which contains some of the most pristine tropical marine environments in the world. These tropical coral reefs and associated marine ecosystems are also among the most vulnerable areas to the impacts of climate change and ocean acidification. Before making decisions about the geographic scope and details of future marine protections, we will consider the input of fishermen, scientists, conservation experts, elected officials, and other stakeholders. The President is also calling on other world leaders to join him in this effort to ensure that the world’s most valuable ocean ecosystems remain productive and pristine for our children and grandchildren.”

    The pathway to new marine sanctuaries includes NOAA’s promulgation of a final rule that allows the public to nominate new marine sanctuaries. The White House describes this NOAA rule as follows:

    “Establishing a pathway to new marine sanctuaries. Last week, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) released a final rule re-opening the public nomination process for proposing new sanctuaries in our oceans and Great Lakes. For the first time since 1995, Americans will be able to nominate nationally significant marine and Great Lakes areas as marine sanctuaries. This reflects the overwhelming consensus of more than 18,000 comments NOAA received on the proposed version of the rule and will give local communities and organizations the opportunity to voice their support for significant marine areas in need of protection.”

    The White House website for these actions, which provides the preceding quotes, is available here .

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