President Clinton today will announce strong, new protections for the remote and pristine coral reefs of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, which comprise nearly 70 percent of America’s coral reefs. In an event at the National Geographic Society in Washington, D.C., the President will issue an Executive Order establishing the 84 million-acre Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Coral Reef Ecosystem Reserve -- the largest protected area ever created in the United States. Today’s action builds on a tradition of preservation for these remote islands, atolls, and submerged lagoons -- including the 1906 designation of the Hawaiian Islands National Wildlife Refuge -- and brings strong protections to reefs that are home to endangered monk seals and sea turtles. In addition, the President will announce a Department of Commerce report, Discovering Earth’s Final Frontier, that charts a bold course for U.S. ocean exploration in the 21st century.
Strong Protection for an Extraordinary But Fragile Habitat. On May 26, President Clinton directed the Secretaries of Commerce and the Interior to develop recommendations for "strong and lasting protection for the coral reef ecosystem of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands." The 3.5 million acres of coral reefs comprise nearly 70 percent of our nation’s reefs, and some of the healthiest reefs in the world. These islands and reefs have long played an important role in the history of the Pacific. Archeological evidence suggests that, more than a thousand years ago, local islanders drew sustenance from their brilliant, turquoise waters. Centuries later, Charles Darwin marveled at the wildlife there during his historic voyage around the world. And in 1942, American soldiers drew a line in the sand there, winning the Battle of Midway and changing the course of history.
In developing their recommendations, the Departments of Commerce and the Interior held public "visioning sessions" throughout Hawaii, and coordinated with state officials, Native Hawaiian groups, the Western Pacific Fishery Management Council, and the Hawaii congressional delegation. Based on the Secretaries’ recommendations, today’s Executive Order:
Preserving the "Rainforests of the Sea." Coral reefs are often described as the "rainforests of the sea." Although coral reefs cover less than one percent of the planet’s surface, they are the world’s most biologically diverse marine ecosystems. In addition, coral reefs provide food and jobs, protect communities from storms, and generate billions of dollars in revenues each year. Around the world, human activities are rapidly degrading and destroying coral reefs, threatening the survival of these valuable and ancient marine ecosystems, and the communities and economies that depend on them. Scientists at last month’s International Coral Reef Symposium presented strong evidence that, without new protections, as much as half the world’s remaining coral reefs could disappear within 25 years.
In June 1998, President Clinton issued an Executive Order establishing the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force. Chaired by the Secretaries of Commerce and the Interior, the task force has led the development and implementation of efforts to map and monitor U.S. coral reefs; research the causes of coral reef degradation; reduce and mitigate coral reef degradation from pollution, overfishing and other causes; and implement conservation strategies internationally.
Safeguarding Our Oceans and Coasts. Today’s action builds on a strong record of ocean protection. President Clinton and Vice President Gore have launched new actions to safeguard our coasts from the risks of offshore oil development, strengthen marine sanctuaries, and protect dolphins and other marine mammals. And to better address the long-term challenges, the President and Vice President launched a national dialogue leading to a comprehensive strategy for strengthening federal ocean policy for the 21st century.
As part of this commitment to ocean stewardship, the President today will announce a new Department of Commerce report, Discovering Earth’s Final Frontier, that charts a bold course for U.S. ocean exploration. On June 12, the President directed the Commerce Secretary to convene a panel of ocean explorers and scientists to develop recommendations. The panel – chaired by Dr. Marsha McNutt of the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute – calls for a national program in ocean exploration that is global in scope, but concentrated initially in areas under U.S. jurisdiction. It urges incentives to private industry to encourage funding of research and development of discoveries with commercial potential.
What's New Archives: 1994-1996
Presidential Webcast: Meeting the Challenge of Global Warming
President Clinton Joins International Religious and Domestic Aids Policy Leaders to Mark World Aids Day
Urging Congress to Keep its Commitment and Complete this Year's Education Budget
To Implement Title V of the Trade and Development Act of 2000 and to Modify the Generalized System of Preferences
Preserving America’s Coral Reefs
Human Rights Day: The Eleanor Roosevelt Award and The Presidential Medal of Freedom
President Clinton Launches New Effort to Increase Immunization Rates Among Children
President Clinton and Vice President Gore: Restoring an American Natural Treasure
Progress in Efforts to Combat International Crime
President Clinton’s New Markets Initiative: Revitalizing America’s Underserved Communities
President Clinton, Vice President Gore, and Congressional Democrats Win a Landmark Budget
Announcing Welfare Reform Achievements and Budget Wins for America’s Families
President Clinton Issues Strong New Consumer Protections to Ensure the Privacy of Medical Records
Enacting a Budget that Invests in Education, Health Care, and America’
President Clinton Appoints Roger Gregory to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
President Clinton Announces New Steps to Improve Nutrition and Education for Children in Developing Countries
The United States on Track to Pay Off the Debt by End of the Decade
President Clinton: Strengthening the Federal Government-University Research Partnership
Keeping the Heat and Lights On During Unusually Cold Weather
President Clinton and First Lady Promote Screenings and Treatment for Breast, Cervical and Other Cancers
Strengthening and Supporting the Military
President Clinton: Strong Action to Preserve America’s Forests
Protecting America’s Natural Treasures
President Clinton: Raising the Minimum Wage -- An Overdue Pay Raise for America’s Working Families
President Clinton Awards the Presidential Citizens Medals
President Clinton Unveils the Completion of the FDR Memorial and Honors FDR’s Legacy
Highlights of the 2001 Economic Report of the President
Prevention Resources For America
President Clinton Honors Martin Luther King Through Words and Deeds
New Efforts to Fight Sweatshops and Child Labor Around the World & Put A More Human Face on the
Leadership for the New Millennium -- A Record of Digital Progress and Prosperity
President Clinton: Celebrating the Legacy of Lewis and Clark and Preserving America’s Natural Treasures
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