President Obama has the authority and opportunity to leave the largest ocean conservation
legacy in history by extending the existing U.S. Pacific Remote Islands Marine National
Monument from the current 50 nautical miles around the seven U.S. Pacific Remote Islands out to the full extent of its 200-nautical mile territorial waters – an increase of 1.8 million square km of new protected area (increase 10 times the current 225,000 square km Monument).
That action would create the largest protected area on Earth (an expanded Monument over 2 million square km) – and include some of the world’s most pristine deep sea and open ocean ecosystems, with unique and global biodiversity value. These pristine national treasures would receive full protection, meaning no extractive activities such as mining, drilling, and fishing would be allowed.
The new National Monument alone would protect 18 percent of the United States EEZ, and it
would double the area of the ocean that is currently fully protected globally. This would make the United States the undisputable world leader in ocean conservation, and set a record in conservation that is unlikely to be matched again in the U.S. or anywhere else in the world.
There is widespread recognition that the oceans need more protection, especially no-take reserves, to protect and restore marine life. Currently less than 1% of the ocean is fully protected from fishing. The natural resource values of the oceanic region surrounding the Pacific Remote Islands MNM are superb, the need for their conservation is clear, and the timing is right for bold leadership by President Obama. The President is the only decision maker with the ability and authority to act swiftly and decisively to protect these national treasures, using the Antiquities Act. Should the President protect these places, he would make conservation history by establishing the world’s largest protected area. President Theodore Roosevelt laid the seeds for the National Park system through his proclamation of 18 National Monuments; President Bush helped increased the legacy of our ocean heritage; and now President Obama can leave an incomparable ocean legacy by protecting our unique and vibrant Pacific ocean ecosystems and establishing the largest ocean conservation legacy in history.
Read the whole report here: http://www.marine-conservation.org/media/filer_public/filer_public/2014/06/17/primnm_expansion_report.pdf
HUMANITY HAS RAISED EXTINCTION RATE A THOUSANDFOLD
Human activity is wiping out species of plants and animals at a dizzying rate, leaving the world on the verge of the sixth great extinction in its history, a new study warns. Researchers found that species are vanishing around 10 times faster than previously believed—and 1,000 times faster than they did before humans emerged, the AP reports. A mass extinction on the scale of the one that wiped out the dinosaurs is close, and “whether we avoid it or not will depend on our actions,” says the lead researcher. Habitat loss is the main factor causing species to disappear, but climate change, overfishing, and the spread of invasive species also play a role.
But the situation isn’t completely hopeless: Modern technology and “citizen scientists” are helping biologists locate endangered species, aiding efforts to save their habitats, the study author tells National Geographic. Thanks to mobile apps like iNaturalists and online crowdsourcing, “we know where the species are, we know where the threats are, and—even though the situation is very bleak—we are better able to manage things,” he says. What can the average citizen do? A scientist not involved in the study suggests encouraging lawmakers to connect nature reserves to each other, and the study author notes that extinction rates of mammals, birds, and amphibians are 20% lower than they would be without protected refuges. About 13% of the planet’s land has been designated as such; the same holds true for only about 2% of the ocean.