Obama’s Much-needed Ocean Plan Falls Short on Warming, Acidification

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Miyoko Sakashita, (415) 632-5308

Obama’s Much-needed Ocean Plan Falls Short on Warming, Acidification

SAN FRANCISCO - The Obama administration released its National Ocean Policy Implementation Plan today, intended to strengthen ocean health and coordinate national management. The plan calls for actions aimed at improving ocean science, planning marine reserves and conservation, reducing risks from increased industrial activity in the Arctic, and bolstering the ocean economy. Missing in the plan are badly needed steps to reduce carbon pollution that’s plaguing oceans and rapidly transforming marine life.

“We’re glad to see President Obama taking ocean health more seriously, but this plan falls short in one very critical way. Without concrete steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, ocean warming and acidification will quickly erode the health of our oceans,” said Miyoko Sakashita, oceans director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Coral reefs are already in deep trouble. If we’re going save them and other sea life from disaster, we have to begin rapid reductions in carbon pollution, and soon.”

The Ocean Plan calls for assessments of the vulnerability of regions to climate change and ocean acidification and recommends the development of adaptation strategies. However, it does not call for reductions in carbon dioxide emissions, which are urgently needed to prevent the worst consequences of ocean acidification and climate change. Every day, some 22 million tons of carbon pollution are absorbed by the world’s oceans.

This plan is a step toward putting conservation at the center of ocean management. It provides a framework for agencies to work together to ensure the sustainability of our oceans, and it also provides guidance for the key areas of management: commercial uses of the ocean, safety and security, coastal and ocean conservation, local stewardship, and science and research. The Arctic is a key focus because of increasing interest in industrial activities in the Arctic Ocean such as shipping and oil and gas exploration.

“The plan recognizes the unique challenges of industrial activity in the Arctic. While it’s a good thing to improve safety for this remote region, there’s no way to make offshore drilling safe, so the Obama administration should put the Arctic Ocean off limits to drilling,” said Sakashita.

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At the Center for Biological Diversity, we believe that the welfare of human beings is deeply linked to nature - to the existence in our world of a vast diversity of wild animals and plants. Because diversity has intrinsic value, and because its loss impoverishes society, we work to secure a future for all species, great and small, hovering on the brink of extinction. We do so through science, law, and creative media, with a focus on protecting the lands, waters, and climate that species need to survive.

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