View Full Version : Bush designates largest marine conservation effort in history

01-07-2009, 01:19 PM
What a man. what a man!


January 06, 2009


Bush Gives Environmentalists Peace Offering
President Bush's move to designate three remote Pacific island chains as national monuments may soothe critics of his environmental record.

President Bush hasn't won much praise from environmentalists over the past eight years, but he may have won over some critics with his plan to designate three remote Pacific island chains as national monuments in what combined with other actions has become the largest marine conservation effort in history.

The three areas -- totaling 195,274 square miles -- include the Mariana Trench and the waters and corals surrounding three uninhabited islands in the Northern Mariana Islands, Rose Atoll in American Samoa and seven islands strung along the equator in the central Pacific Ocean.

Each location harbors unique species and some of the rarest geological formations on Earth, from a bird that incubates its eggs in the heat of underwater volcanoes to a sulfur pool -- the only other one exists on Jupiter's moon, Io.

All will be protected as national monuments -- the same status afforded to statues and cultural sites -- under the 1906 Antiquities Act. The law allows the government immediately to phase out commercial fishing and other extractive uses in the areas, but recreational fishing, tourism and scientific research with a federal permit could still be permitted. The designations will not conflict with U.S. military activities or freedom of navigation, White House officials said.

It will be the second time Bush has used the law to protect marine resources. Two years ago the president made a huge swath of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands a national monument, barring fishing, oil and gas extraction and tourism from its waters and coral reefs. At the time, that area was the largest conservation area in the world.

The three areas designated Tuesday are larger, and environmentalists praised Bush for his plan.

"This historic action by President Bush protects some of the world's most unique and biologically significant ocean habitat," Joshua S. Reichert, managing director of the Pew Environment Group, said in a statement that appear's on Pew's Web site.

"Together with the Hawaii marine monument established two years ago, this marks the end of an era in which humans have increasingly understood the need to conserve vanishing wild places on land but failed to comprehend the similar plight of our oceans," he added. "It comes none too soon."

The Pew Environment Group said it has worked with the Bush administration for the past two years to promote the concept of a large-scale marine reserve in the waters surrounding the Mariana Islands. More than 200 local businesses and 6,000 citizens signed petitions supporting world-class marine monument designation, the group said.

The group also partnered with the islands' business community and Friends of the Monument, a local environmental group promoting the Mariana Trench Marine National Monument, to vet the proposed monument in public meetings, develop the first comprehensive scientific profile of the biological and geological resources contained within the proposed monument site, plus an assessment of the potential economic benefits of monument designation to the Marianas economy.

"We are proud that President Bush has recognized the importance and richness of the Mariana Island waters," Ike Cabrera, chairman of the Friends of the Monument, said in a written statement. "We can now share with the world this special place our people have long cherished."

But the designations came with some opposition and fell short in size and scope of what some environmentalists had hoped for.

Some advocacy groups wanted as much as 115,000 square miles in the Northern Mariana Islands to be protected, but Northern Mariana Islands government officials and indigenous communities had concerns about sovereignty, fishing and mineral exploration.

"If the monument is smaller than we asked then that is OK," Agnes McPhtres, vice chairwoman of the group, said in a written statement. "We still applaud President Bush for taking the first step."

Bush received some of his harshest criticism from environmentalists for refusing to sign the Kyoto treaty on climate change. Bush said the landmark agreement, which aims to reduce gas emissions believed to be behind rising global temperatures, would have destroyed the U.S. economy, and he said the treaty didn't require other "big polluters" such as India and China to cut emissions.

Ought Six
01-08-2009, 01:42 PM