By Casey Frye, CCNN Writer
Oceans are in trouble these days because of overfishing and pollution, which not only affects marine life but can also negatively impact human health. Millions of people depend on the sea for their food and about two-thirds of Earth’s oxygen comes from tiny ocean plants called phytoplankton, so keeping these vast bodies of water clean and safe is crucial. To protect this ancient life-giving environment, President Barack Obama signed off on the world’s biggest ocean preserve in the Pacific Ocean.
Back in 2009, former President George W. Bush set a presidential record for creating the most marine monuments, which are aquatic areas that the government protects. One of the designated regions he made in 2009 was the 87,000-square-mile Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument, and now Obama is increasing it to over 490,000 square miles!
This summer, a global community of experts gathered for the “Our Ocean” Conference to discuss ocean-saving solutions. Speakers included Obama, Secretary of State John Kerry, and actor Leonardo DiCaprio, who is a very active nature conservationist (protector). At the event, DiCaprio gave a speech where he expressed, “It’s fantastic to start off the day by hearing President Obama commit to expanding marine reserves in US waters and taking serious steps to prevent illegally caught fish from entering the marketplace.” DiCaprio, who also works with his charity to save tigers from going extinct, was honored with the Global Citizen Award for his efforts last week. He also spoke at the United Nations Climate Summit, inspiring world leaders to fix the planet.
In a follow-up to the June conference, Sec. Kerry explained, “We have a responsibility to make sure our kids and their families and the future has the same ocean to serve it in the same way as we have — not to be abused, but to preserve and utilize, And we’re talking about an area of ocean that’s nearly twice the size of Texas, and that will be protected in perpetuity from commercial fishing and other resource-extraction activities, like deep-water mining.”
Images courtesy of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the US Department of State.