April 22, 2009 - Kaitlin Gaffney, Pacific Ecosystem Program Director at Ocean Conservancy released the following statement regarding today's launch of a national system of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) by the Obama Administration:
"The ocean is the life-support system for our planet, it provides much of the food we eat, the air we breathe and drives the climate we need to survive. We need to improve the way we manage our ocean at both the state and the federal level, and marine protected areas continue to be one of the most powerful tools we have to restore critical ocean ecosystems."
Today's announcement of 225 "charter sites" that have been accepted into the new National System of Marine Protected Areas recognizes that ocean conservation is a national priority. California's ongoing leadership in protecting ocean habitats under the Marine Life Protection Act is reflected as well: the 29 marine protected areas adopted on the central coast in 2007 and the 12 MPAs adopted at the Channel Islands in 2003 are included as charter sites in the new national system.
"Marine protected areas are an essential tool to help strengthen the resiliency of our ocean as it faces the increasing threats of unsustainable fishing, pollution and climate change. Marine protected areas can help ensure that recreational, commercial and tourism activities in and around California's oceans will remain for generations to come and ensure that coastal economies remain vibrant."
Today's announcement is a significant step forward and shows that the Obama Administration is serious about protecting ocean habitat.
"Today's announcement provides well deserved national recognition to California for its leadership role in ocean conservation under the landmark Marine Life Protection Act. This announcement demonstrates that California's new underwater parks provide a national legacy of ocean protection."
About the MLPA: The Marine Life Protection Act was signed into law in 1999 and is designed to create a network of "underwater Yosemites" along California's coastline to protect biological diversity, sustain habitats and restore depleted marine populations. The MLPA's unique public-private partnership has allowed the initiative to continue despite state budget issues and is expected to be completed in 2011.
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