PEERMail | Time to “Go Big” on Oceans

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Time to “Go Big” on Oceans

Ocean waves with orange sunset in backgroundIn our nation’s discussion on climate change and biodiversity loss, our oceans are rarely mentioned. 

Yet, America’s oceans are in significant decline due to overexploitation, climate change, acidification, and pollution. Many marine species are threatened or endangered, and entire marine ecosystems, ranging from sea ice to coral reefs, are severely in decline. Our collective failure to protect the oceans is imperiling ecosystems that we depend on to live. 

That is why PEER Board Member Rick Steiner helped organize a letter signed by more than 90 distinguished scientists urging President Biden to “go big” on major policy initiatives for ocean protection. 

Many marine scientists are concerned that President Biden’s 30×30 plan, which calls for conserving 30 percent of the nation’s land and water by 2030, makes no mention of establishing Marine National Monuments. These monuments provide the opportunity to protect marine areas with outstanding resource biodiversity and scientific value.   

Marine national monuments vs national marine sanctuariesCurrently, the principal Marine National Monuments cover remote stretches of the central and western Pacific. The scientists’ letter urges the administration to prioritize highly threatened, productive continental shelf waters for protection as Marine National Monuments. 

It remains to be seen, however, whether the Biden administration can muster the political courage to follow the science. The administration’s initial 30×30 proposal calls for a reliance on local voluntary actions, but without bold actions on federal lands and waters, 30×30 will remain only a distant vision. 

Fighting to conserve 30 percent of our lands and waters by 2030 – including our oceans — is what this moment in history demands. We hope you will join us in this effort.   

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