"We have a solemn responsibility to care for our seas and show concern for the plant and animal life that inhabit them. Oceans bring enjoyment and prosperity to countless people, from boating and fishing, to transporting goods, to traveling the waterways. By being good stewards of the oceans, we can ensure that future generations are able to enjoy the great blessings of our natural heritage."
President George W. Bush, 6/2/08
Today, President Bush celebrated the opening of the new Sant Ocean Hall at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History and discussed the Administration's efforts to protect and preserve our oceans, coasts, and the Great Lakes through wise stewardship and sensible management. In December 2004, the President released his Ocean Action Plan and created the first ever Cabinet Committee on Ocean Policy. The Ocean Action Plan promotes an ethic of responsible use and preservation of our oceans and coastal resources.
The Administration has met or is on schedule to meet all 88 actions in the Ocean Action Plan. More than a quarter of the existing actions have activities that "moved beyond" the initial commitments. The President has steadily increased funding for ocean and coast programs. The Fiscal Year 2008 budget provided over $9.5 billion in funding for Federal ocean and coastal programs.
The President announced the expansion of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary to include the Davidson Sea Mount. This 585-square-nautical-mile addition will safeguard one of the largest known sea mounts in U.S. waters and protect an extraordinary array of ocean creatures.
Today, the President discussed efforts to restore, improve, and protect at least four million additional acres of wetlands over the next five years. This builds on the Administration's achievement of the President's original goal of protecting, improving, and restoring three million acres of interior and coastal wetlands. The Administration exceeded the initial goal by more than 600,000 acres and did so one year earlier than predicted.
The President's Ocean Action Plan Will Provide Lasting Benefit To Present And Future Generations
Protecting striped bass and red drum fish populations: Last year, President Bush signed an Executive Order to conserve two of America's most popular recreational fish striped bass and red drum fish. This Order moves to prohibit the sale of striped bass and red drum caught in Federal waters, promotes more accurate scientific records about fish population levels, and helps the Federal government work with State and local officials to find innovative ways to conserve these species for future generations.
Helping to end overfishing: President Bush signed the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Reauthorization Act of 2006, which sets a firm deadline to end overfishing in America by 2011 and provides the policy tools necessary to ensure success.
Helping to eliminate shark finning: The Administration spearheaded the adoption of shark finning bans in four different international organizations that have a combined membership of 67 different contracting or cooperating parties. The Administration has also helped develop and win adoption of language in the 2007 United Nations General Assembly resolution on sustainable fisheries calling for improved shark conservation by the international community.
The President Has Protected And Restored Important Marine Habitats
Creating the largest fully protected marine conservation area in the world: President Bush established the Papahânaumokuâkea Marine National Monument in June 2006, designating nearly 140,000 square miles of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands to receive our Nation's highest form of marine environmental protection.
Addressing harmful marine debris: President Bush signed the Marine Debris Research, Prevention, and Reduction Act to remove, reduce, and prevent marine debris and its adverse impacts on the marine environment. In November 2007, Mrs. Bush announced a new Marine Debris Initiative to address the estimated 6.4 million tons of marine debris that litter the ocean. The initiative encourages the private sector to clean up marine debris and educates the public on what they can do to prevent its spread.
Protecting Marine Habitats: The Administration has put two-thirds of Federal waters about 2.3 million square nautical miles off-limits to harmful bottom-trawling and dredging.
Restoring America's Everglades: The program to restore the Everglades is the largest watershed restoration in the world. The Federal government and the State of Florida are leading the overall effort to coordinate this complex and challenging mix of Federal, State, local, and tribal initiatives. The President's budgets support construction of Federal projects critical to successful restoration.
Restoring Louisiana's coast: The Administration designed and built large-scale habitat restoration projects to combat Louisiana's land loss crisis. In the largest barrier island restoration project ever designed and built by NOAA, 2.6 miles of Gulf of Mexico shoreline, part of the Mississippi River delta, including dune, swale beach, and intertidal wetland habitats, were restored at the Chaland Headland restoration site in Louisiana's Plaquemines Parish.
Identifying additional areas for potential marine protection: President Bush asked Secretaries Gutierrez, Kempthorne, and Gates to complete an assessment on whether to provide additional recognition, protection, or improved conservation and management for objects of historic or scientific interest at specific areas in the Pacific as marine protected areas. The areas include several remote islands and atolls, including surrounding marine waters in the Pacific Ocean. These areas are home to objects of historic and scientific interest that may be appropriate for protection and improved conservation and management under available authorities.
President Bush Promoted A Culture Of Cooperative Conservation And Enhanced International Cooperation To Protect The Ocean Environment All Nations Share
Enhancing cooperative conservation: In 2004, the President signed an Executive Order directing Federal agencies that oversee environmental and natural resource policies and programs to promote cooperative conservation in full partnership with States, local governments, tribes, and individuals.
Supporting the Coral Triangle Initiative: In December 2007, the Administration announced its support for six nations in Southeast Asia as they enhance coral conservation, promote sustainable fisheries, and ensure food security. Since then, the United States has provided $8.4 million to this initiative.
Ensuring sustainable use and responsible management of the Great Lakes Basin: In 2004, the President signed Executive Order 11340, which established an interagency task force and promoted regional collaboration in the Great Lakes region. President Bush supported the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact. The Compact is the result of many years of close coordination and consensus-building that resulted in the Compact's approval by the eight Great Lakes States and two Canadian Provinces. The Compact will preserve the Great Lakes for the benefit and enjoyment of present and future generations
Calling for an end to destructive fishing practices: In October 2006, the President directed Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, in consultation with Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez, to strengthen efforts to protect sustainable fisheries and call for an end to destructive fishing practices. In December 2006, in an effort spearheaded by the United States, the United Nations passed a resolution to help protect fish stocks and marine habitats from destructive fishing practices.
President Bush Expanded Ocean Research And Education Programs To Teach Citizens More About Our Oceans
Expanding our scientific knowledge of our oceans: The Administration completed the first coordinated, national effort to identify ocean research priorities linked to societal needs, "Charting the Course for Ocean Science in the United States for the Next Decade: An Ocean Research Priorities Plan and Implementation Strategy." This plan will guide research efforts for the ocean community, including the Federal agencies, for the next decade.
Exploring new scientific platforms: The Administration improved the Nation's capacity to conduct key scientific ocean research, including new satellite instruments (e.g., NASA's Aquarius), and new ocean exploration vessels (e.g., NOAA's Okeanos Explorer).
Supporting ocean literacy: The Administration sponsored the first-ever Conference on Ocean Literacy, which brought together leaders in formal and informal education settings to discuss the current challenges and opportunities facing ocean literacy in our Nation. And through the Coastal Ecosystem Learning Center Network, the public can learn hands-on about sea life at more than 20 of America's top aquariums. Along with the Smithsonian's ocean hall, these centers will reach 32 million visitors each year.