Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach

US Spearheads Ocean Preservation Movement

July 16, 2014

  Kelly Donovan, Environment Intern

Wisdom 2:6 “Come, therefore, let us enjoy the good things that exist, and make use of the creation to the full as in youth.”

The ocean is physically the largest part of the Earth’s environment. It covers over 70% of the earth’s surface. God created the world and everything in it so that we could live in it and enjoy it. As it is written in Wisdom, we are called to make use of creation and with that calling we also have a duty to take care of it. However, the oceans are becoming more and more contaminated, mainly due to manmade pollution. Environmentalists have been pushing governments for the protection of oceans around the world.  Carol Browner, a former Environmental Protection Agency administrator, is quoted saying “Our oceans are feeling the strain of human activity from increased acidification, overfishing, and pollution, and we need to take bold action to protect this vital natural resource.”

United States President Barack Obama has recently begun efforts to preserve the oceans and their diversity. The President announced on Tuesday June 17, 2014, that he plans to expand the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument, which currently is an area of ocean between Hawaii and American Samoa. Mr. Obama has not yet decided on the exact dimensions of the expanded protected area, which presently includes eighty square miles, but it has the potential to become two million square kilometers.  Having the Marine National Monument label protects the area from fishing and drilling. If the area expanded to its largest potential it will double the amount of protected ocean area on the entire planet.

Other countries are also making efforts to conserve and protect the world’s oceans. Though their efforts are moving slower than planned, the United Kingdom is working to protect one hundred and twenty-seven separate areas. Columbans in the area are working to try and gain awareness of the issue and illustrate its severity. Additionally a vast portion of ocean controlled by the Republic of Kiribati was recently declared to be protected from commercial fishing beginning January 1, 2015.

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