The Intersection

Yesterday, President George W. Bush set aside 195,000 square miles of Pacific ocean habitat under executive authority granted by the Antiquities Act. He created three new national monuments which ban seafloor mining, most commercial fishing, and limit recreational and indigenous harvest.

The new areas include the waters surrounding Howland, Baker, Jarvis and Wake islands; Rose, Palmyra and Johnston atolls; Kingman Reef; the three northernmost Mariana Islands; and the deep seafloor of the Mariana Trench.

And with a stroke of his pen, W. protected more ocean than any other political leader in history and earned his blue legacy.


Sure, these are not the most important places to protect and in some regions enforcement will be extremely challenging, but let’s face it, any protection is good and at least it’s a step in the right direction… as long as the move doesn’t prevent us from taking more important action in the future by using up political capital.

I hope readers continue to remember that–monuments or not–around the world our marine realm is in serious trouble due to acidification, trophic cascades, overharvest, oil drilling, coral reef degradation, pollution, algal blooms, destructive fishing practices, empty oceans and on and on. So praise the sitting President for doing a bit of good on his way out of office, but stay vigilant.

As oceans go, so goes the planet.


  1. #1 Amanda
    January 7, 2009

    A small step is a start.

  2. #2 Left_Wing_Fox
    January 7, 2009

    But will that make up for the Orwellian-named ‘Clear Skies” and “Healthy Forests” initiatives, ignoring the scientific consensus on global warming, and putting a political leash on the EPA and other government industry watchdogs?

  3. #3 Woody Tanaka
    January 7, 2009

    “So praise the sitting President for doing a bit of good on his way out of office, but stay vigilant.”

    I would disagree. Given the last 8 years, I beleive that the correct response is to curse Bush, but praise this particular act.

  4. #4 BJN
    January 7, 2009

    Any positive that comes from Bush’s ocean habitat protections is more than negated by his administration’s opening up public lands for roads; drilling in sensitive and wilderness areas; gutting endangered species protection; failure to regulate toxic coal power plant emissions; and of course failing to do anything substantial to address anthropogenic climate change.

    Hitler left the world with the VW Beetle and V2 rocket scientists. Here’s to the positive side of the Bush legacy!

  5. #5 Linda
    January 7, 2009

    A little something is better than a whole bunch of nothing..
    And better still, the Obama administration is close by and nearly here.

  6. #6 Dave X
    January 7, 2009

    Is there a real estate angle here? Maybe since national security trumps environmental protections, this is a way to make way for navy operations?

    I’m sorry, but I’m too jaundiced by Bush’s previous actions to think he’s doing something like this out of the goodness of his heart.

  7. #7 Ashutosh
    January 7, 2009

    Talk about looking at the nanoscopic silver lining at the edge of the big black cloud! That does sound nice, I agree, but I still think he should be prosecuted. Sorry.

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