Friday, January 16, 2009

George Bush Creates 3 Giant Marine Reserves

George Bush, using executive privilege, ordered the creation of three giant marine reserves in American waters in the Pacific. In total some 500,000 square kilometres, roughly equivalent to the size of Spain, will be better protected in the three zones. Reefs, islands, and the ocean around the Mariana Islands, Palmyra Atoll and Rose Atoll will be covered.

The announcement had been expected for months, amid wrangling over the level of protection that would be given. Recreational fishermen demanded access to the remote waters, if only for the sake of avoiding a precedent that could affect what they do elsewhere. A compromise was reached that will let them fish in the reserves, with a permit, if they can prove that they would cause no harm. In contrast, commercial fishing, tourism, and the extraction of oil and gas will all be forbidden. In a few places, including Kingman, such protections already existed out to a 12 nautical mile (22.2km) limit, but the new reserves will extend these limits to 50 nautical miles, creating vast new protected areas. The many birds on Kingman should now thrive, benefiting from valuable fishing grounds.

It will be up to Mr Bush’s successor, Barack Obama, to work out some important details for the new reserves, such as where to find resources needed to protect these new areas. After Mr Bush created the Hawaii reserve there were actually fewer funds provided for the clean-up of 28 tonnes of debris, some of it hazardous to marine life, that wash up on the islands every year.
More marine reserves sounds good to me. But, putting it on paper is one thing, making sure it actually is protected is another. I hope Obama follows up on this. Given his Hawaiian background, I think he will.

via The Economist

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