In case you hadn’t already heard the news, President Bush has created three new marine protected area that encompasses some very special places. Newly protected areas include the Mariana Trench, the deepest place on earth*, and the Line Islands, home to some of the most pristine coral reefs left in the world.
So how will being in a reserve help these ecosystems? Classification as a national monument means that commercial fishing, waste dumping (yes, waste dumping is legal in many places) and oil drilling are banned. Critically, deep sea mining (as nearly brought about by the now-troubled Nautilus Mineral) will not be allowed.
Certainly, there’s room to increase these protections even further. Recreational fishing (with a permit) is still allowed, the waters above the Mariana trench are not protected, and Bush could have easily made the reserves even bigger. (Sarah Chasis at the Huffington Post has suggestions for the Obama administration.) But I am thrilled, and thankful, that President Bush took this enormous step forward to protect the oceans.
Now how about that Endangered Species Act?
*NOT the Laurentian Abyss, as stated by that respected scientific publication The Transformers movie. No crushed Decepticons will be protected by this reserve.