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Obama: Oceans key to protecting planet from climate change

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS

    President Barack Obama spoke at the 2016 Our Ocean Conference at the State Department in Washington today.

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS

    Corals on Mytilus Seamount off the coast of New England in the North Atlantic Ocean.

WASHINGTON » President Barack Obama said today that creating the Atlantic Ocean’s first marine national monument was a needed response to dangerous climate changes, ocean dead zones and unsustainable fishing practices.

The new Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument consists of nearly 5,000 square miles of underwater canyons and mountains off the New England coast. It’s the 27th time that Obama has created or enlarged a national monument.

“If we’re going to leave our children with oceans like the ones that were left to us, then we’re going to have to act and we’re going to have to act boldly,” Obama said at a State Department conference. More than 20 countries represented at the meeting were also announcing the creation of their own marine protected areas.

Monument designations come with restrictions on certain activities. The White House said the designation will lead to a ban on commercial fishing, mining and drilling, though a seven-year exception will occur for the lobster and red crab industries. Recreational fishing will be allowed within the monument.

Supporters of the new monument say protecting large swaths of ocean from human stresses can sustain important species and reduce the toll of climate change. Fishermen worry it will become harder for them to earn a living as a result of Obama’s move.

“We’ve been fishing out there for 35 years. It’s a big blow to us,” said Jon Williams, president of the Atlantic Red Crab Company in New Bedford, Massachusetts.

White House officials said the administration listened to industry’s concerns, and noted the monument is smaller than originally proposed and contains a transition period for companies like Williams’.

Williams said his company will survive, but the changes designed to address some of his concerns don’t sway him about the merits of the monument.

“I think the entire New England fishery is upside down over this,” Williams said.

Obama said the world was asking too much of its oceans. He said the investments the U.S. and other nations were taking with new marine protected areas were vital for their economy and national security, but “also vital to our spirit.”

“We cannot truly protect our planet without protecting our oceans,” Obama said.

In all, the Atlantic Ocean monument will include three underwater canyons deeper than the Grand Canyon and four underwater mountains. It is home to such protected species as the sperm, fin and sei whales, and Kemp’s ridley turtles. Expeditions also have found species of coral found nowhere else on earth.

Environmental groups pushed the effort to designate the new monument and sought to make the case it was as important to be good stewards of the ocean as it was the land and air.

“Just as wild lands around the globe are beleaguered by human development and climate change, our oceans are under duress today more than ever before,” said Jamie Williams, president of The Wilderness Society.

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  • The ocean is doomed. Nobody wants to sacrifice their own comfort or income for the sake of future generations. And that attitude extends beyond fishing to pretty much everything. Tigers going extinct? Who cares, I like Sumatran coffee. Carbon emissions? Who cares, I prefer driving to riding a bike. Deforestation? Who cares, I like to eat beef. Human impact? Who cares, God told me to have as many kids as I possibly can. Fresh water pollution? Who cares, I like to use cheap plastic products, and I don’t want to pay for new sewer systems. Actually, I think “the ocean is doomed” should be “the planet is doomed.” I feel sorry for future generations.

  • It’s all bigotry lies. Here are some sad truths that they will never reveal…

    They should start by shutting down all the nuclear reactors along the coasts like Fukushima that keep spilling radioactive waste into the ocean non-stop and destroying all lifeforms indefinitely beyond any damage we could have done from over fishing.

    Secondly, turn off the power grid at night, just like in North Korea which happens to be pitch dark from satellite imagery at night. Go to sleep like the animals do and shut-up about your FB account not being accessible at 3AM.

    Finally, stop over populating, 7 billion people is far too many to sustain this planet. Time for more GMO corn and high fructose corn syrup to be stirred into everything to accelerate diabetes and let swaths of lazy to fall like flies.

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