Our American based colleagues have been waiting for months to say what they think of the outgoing US Government’s record on cetacean conservation. Well actually, they have not held back so much if you look back through this blog, but they have been pondering what the overall legacy will be. It would seem that in these final few weeks President George Bush will announce that the US is to establish what it calls "the largest area of protected sea in the world" around its Pacific islands.
The BBC reports that ‘Commercial fishing and mining will be banned in the protected zones which include the Marianas Trench, the deepest area of ocean on the planet.
The area totals 500,000 sq km (190,000 sq miles) of sea and sea floor.
President George W Bush will formally announce the measure during an address on Tuesday evening in Washington.’
Erich Hoyt, WDCS Global Marine Protected Area Campaign leader, in response to the announcement said ‘We had hoped for even larger areas to be protected, but this is indeed a significant step forward toward the US meeting the 2012 commitments in terms of designating new marine protected areas (MPAs) and MPA networks. Now it's time for the rest of the world to accelerate the process of making MPAs to protect marine mammals and other species and ecosystems around the world."
In October 2008, WDCS, the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society, launched a 5 year campaign including a global petition to create 12 large, highly protected safe havens or MPAs for whales and dolphins as their contribution to 2012 targets. Surveys have turned up 18 whale and dolphin species in the Mariana Trench National Marine Monument alone, including the popular humpback whale and spinner dolphin, as well as Risso's dolphins, sperm whales, sei whales and melon-headed whales, and several rare beaked whale species. Commercial fishing will be phased out of the monuments, but recreational fishing, whale watching, diving and other sustainable marine tourism will be allowed.
So what do you think to Bush’s last hurrah? Does it change your opinion of him, or is this too little too late?
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