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President Bush To Leave “Blue Legacy” By Protecting Parts Of Pacific Ocean

January 6, 2009

President Bush is looking to leave behind a "blue legacy." The President is designating three areas in the Pacific Ocean as marine national monuments - and the total area getting federal protection is larger than the state of California. The move is part of an effort to protect and replenish marine habitats, which is also what California has been doing with its own statewide network of marine protected areas.

Kaitlin Gaffney, Ecosystem Protection Director for the Ocean Conservancy, says California's MPAs and the anticipated federal protected areas will benefit the ecosystem and the coastal economy.

"It's not rocket science. The basic premise is that if you leave some areas in the ocean alone, they can be restored, they can thrive, they will have larger populations of fish and invertebrates."

A recent poll found residents of the Marianas support the marine protection, and tourism considerations explain the widespread support. Gaffney says coastal tourism is also a factor behind California's ocean protection projects.

"A protected ocean yields a better tourism experience. People come to bird-watch, kayak, and scuba dive, and all of that generates revenues for coastal communities."

The Bush administration's plan has the potential to protect a total of 195,000 square miles around the Mariana Islands and a series of tiny U.S.-controlled territories stretching from the Line Islands to the Rose Atoll in American Samoa. The Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council, a federal agency that regulates fishing from Hawaii to Guam, opposes the designation, saying it would harm the fishing economy.

More information can be found at www.caloceans.org or
www.dfg.gov/mlpa


Lori Abbott, Public News Service - CA