THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Vice President
|For Immediate Release:|| || Thursday, June 11, 1998|
STATEMENT BY VICE PRESIDENT AL GORE
CONCERNING OCEANS ANNOUNCEMENTS
Just moments ago, I had the opportunity to board MBARI's WesternFlyer, and see what is truly the future of ocean exploration and research.I saw the stunning "remotely-operated vehicle" which is able to gatherspecimens and geological samples, drill holes in the bottom of the oceanfloor, and even take broadcast-quality video -- it's really an electronic,remote-controlled version of Jacques Cousteau.
This kind of 21st Century ocean research is absolutely critical. Wedepend upon our oceans for everything from food to recreation to one out ofsix American jobs. Our oceans have yielded enormous scientific insights --from new understandings of global warming, to potentially life-savingcancer treatments derived from fish and marine life. Today, new threats toour oceans -- such as pollution, overfishing, and the destruction of coralreefs -- make it even more important that we explore and understand ouroceans, so we can protect and preserve them for future generations.
Until very recently, we knew more about the surface of the moon thanwe knew about the ocean floor. That's not the way it should be. And thatis why I am pleased to make four important announcements on behalf of thePresident that will dramatically increase our understanding of the oceans,and also bolster our efforts to protect them.
First, I am announcing a new $4 million effort to conduct acomprehensive exploration of the oceans surrounding the United States,using the most advanced underwater technology. By mapping the ocean floor,we will find more promising sources of life-saving drugs and minerals. Wewill discover new forms of marine life. We will locate historicalartifacts, like sunken ships. And we will finally be able to assess thefull economic value of our oceans to the American economy.
Second, as part of our plan to ensure clean water nationwide, we willlaunch new partnerships with states, local communities, and the privatesector to protect America's coastal waters -- which means protecting thewater we swim in, and the fish we eat. We will do more to monitor andreduce toxic waste and pollution in coastal waters -- and through a newWebsite, we will tell the public immediately when beaches must be closed.
Third, we know that the oceans are a driving force behind globalwarming, and also behind extreme weather events such as El Nino.Understanding the ocean's role can help us to better protect America'sfamilies. Today, I am announcing that by the year 2002, we will develop anew ocean monitoring system, to give us a better understanding of thecritical relationship between oceans and global warming. Through improvedsatellites and buoys that will actually measure ocean height andtemperature, we will be able to predict the regional impact of globalwarming much more accurately.
Fourth, we will declassify and release to the public and thescientific community secret Navy data about our oceans -- data that willteach us an enormous amount about climate and weather systems. Ourmilitary has also been developing computer-based nautical charts --considered by many to be a giant step forward in marine navigation andsafety. By releasing this information for civilian use, we will reapenormous benefits in trade, in science, and in our ability to monitor andguard against extreme weather such as global warming and El Nino.
These four new steps by the federal government will help us explorethe depths of the ocean -- to better protect and advance the interests offamilies right here in dry land. By giving us new tools to findlife-saving medicines, to understand and guard against global warming andEl Nino, and to keep our water clean and our economy strong, these newactions will bring a new wave of opportunities for the American people.
President Clinton and I are committed to making the right investments-- and harnessing the latest technology -- to meet the challenges andchanges posed by our oceans. For centuries, people have been enthralled bythe mysteries of the sea. Our goal is to make it somewhat less mysterious,so that we can keep enjoying its benefits for centuries to come.