Coconut crabs are among the species inhabiting one of the newly proposed marine preserves. Photo: Mila Zinkova via Wikipedia
Though the outgoing Bush administration seems like it has done its darnest to vandalize the environment, sometimes something good comes out of unlikely quarters. Announced today, three newly proposed marine monuments in the Pacific Ocean would create protected ecosystems nearly 50% larger than all US National Parks combined. The total area to be protected will be 195,000 square miles. These are the three new marine monument areas:US Pacific Remote Islands
This uninhabited island chain (sometimes called the Line Islands) consisting of Palmyra, Kingman, Johnston, Jarvis, Howland and Baker Islands, contains large numbers of coral reefs and is home to vast numbers of migratory seabirds.
Northern Mariana Islands
Encompassing the area containing the Mariana Trench (the deepest canyon in the world, five times deeper than the Grand Canyon), this protected area would cover uninhabited islands. These volcanic islands contain coral reefs, are the home of over two dozen species of seabirds, endangered and threatened sea turtles, marine mammals and giant coconut crabs.
In American Samoa, at slightly less than 53 acres in size, Rose Atoll is one of the smallest atolls on the planet. Protection for this area was requested by the Governor of Samoa.
President Bush has acted on the opportunity to carry on for the ocean what President Theodore Roosevelt began when he created the National Park system.
Our ocean is under a great deal of pressure from extractive and destructive activities. Areas like these that are protected from stress can more easily adapt to larger threats, such as climate change and the acidification of ocean water caused by excess carbon dioxide. In the face of all these challenges nations, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and thousands of scientists have called for ten to twenty percent of the world’s oceans to be fully protected before it is too late.
More at: Ocean Conservancy
National Parks, Marine Conservation
The Year Ahead in 2008: Making Ocean and Coastal Conservation a Priority
Many of World’s Coral Reefs Will Be Gone by 2050
Midnight Rule-Change Opens National Parks to Mountain Bikes