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An Ocean Legacy: Will Obama Dig Deep?

US - Yesterday, the President Bush administration announced plans to create a national monument that will protect 195,000 square nautical miles of the Pacific Ocean, but what legacy will Obama leave in his wake?

Sweeping areas of the ocean's most pristine treasures, including spectacular corals and the deepest canyon in the world, will be protected by law and given the chance to become stronger, wrote Vikki Spruill, president and chief executive of Ocean Conservancy.

According to the article, which was published in the Washington Post, what is most significant about this move is the opportunity it creates for President-elect Barack Obama.

There is still much work to be done in order to protect the oceans. Vikki Spruill says: 'the effects of climate change on the oceans are widespread; higher air and water temperatures alone have produced changes including the loss of sea ice, shifts in ocean circulation, rises in sea level, extreme weather events and harmful changes to fish and other marine wildlife.'

She adds that the increased concentration of carbon dioxide has led to acidification of ocean water, threatening the crucial base of the food web. 'The need to build ocean resilience is all the more critical since the 27-year moratorium on new oil and gas drilling offshore was lifted last year, threatening further harm to the marine environment while, ironically, doing little to resolve the nation's energy crisis.'

The Ocean Conservancy urges the Obama administration to build on President Bush's step forward by strengthening ocean protections that ensure the health of the planet. According to The Ocean Conservancy, Obama could begin building a truly blue legacy with the following steps:

  • Mandate that every action on climate change include consideration of its impact on our oceans.
  • Focus on the Arctic. The Arctic, Earth's air conditioner, is already experiencing some of the most severe effects of climate change.
  • Bring order to the oceans. Wind farms and other energy facilities, commercial fishing, diverse recreational uses, offshore drilling and shipping superhighways are all competing to stake their claims.

According to the Washington Post article, these initial actions, in addition to fulfilling Obama's promise to combat climate change, would set the stage for a blue presidential legacy -- one that Teddy Roosevelt would envy and of which Obama could be proud.

the Fish Site Editor

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