Bush Plan for Marine Preserve Threatened By His Own Vice President

mariana trench image

Mariana trench- NOAA/National Geographic
A few months back, environmentalists cheered President Bush's proposed creation of a vast Pacific marine preserve that included the area of the Mariana Trench, the Rose Atoll in American Samoa and parts of a long, sprawling collection of reefs and atolls known as the Line Islands, designed to preserve "some of the world's most diverse underwater ecosystems." His memorandum described the area as

"isolated from population centers, mostly uninhabited" and supporting "endemic, depleted, migratory, endangered and threatened species of fish, giant clams, crabs, marine mammals, sea turtles, seabirds, migratory shorebirds and corals that are rapidly vanishing elsewhere in the world."

But it is not isolated from Dick Cheney.

trieste image

Trieste, the first boat to reach the bottom of the Mariana Trench, piloted by Jacques Piccard

According to the Washington Post,

Vice President Cheney and some officials in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands have argued that the plan could hurt the region's economy by barring fishing and energy exploration.

Others say that a marine reserve would attract tourists, divers and researchers. Joshual Reichert of the Pew Environment Group says:

"Protecting places like this is one of the few things a sitting president can do that will live on in posterity and be remembered long after the other decrees and orders have been forgotten," Reichert said. "It would signal to the nation and the world that the sea needs to be treated as a threatened resource, and it will open up an era of global ocean conservation."

Let's hope George Bush can close this deal. His assistant secretary of State for Oceans, Environment and Science says the administration will be "working up until the last week" of Bush's term on the initiatives. Washington Post

Jacques Piccard 1922-2008
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