. . . have been good for our marine ecosystems.
Across the country, Americans depend on the ocean for food, jobs, and recreation. However, our ocean and marine ecosystems are increasingly threatened. Climate change is causing sea levels and ocean temperatures to rise. Changing temperatures harm coral reefs and force certain species to migrate. In addition, carbon pollution is being absorbed by the oceans, causing them to acidify, which damages coastal shellfish beds and reefs, altering entire marine ecosystems. Currently, the rate of acidification of our oceans is increasing 10 to 100 times faster than any time in the past 55 million years.
The President has taken to protect important marine areas, including designating the Bristol Bay area of Alaska as off-limits to future oil and gas leasing. Last year, President Obama signed a proclamation to expand the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument, creating the world’s largest marine reserve off-limits to commercial extraction and protecting one of the most pristine tropical marine environments in the world.
Taking Steps to Conserve America’s Special and Unique Places
The President will announce that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is moving forward to designate the first new National Marine Sanctuaries since 2000, one in Maryland and the other in the Great Lakes.
• Wisconsin’s Lake Michigan. In Wisconsin, an 875-square mile area of Lake Michigan, with waters extending from Port Washington to Two Rivers was nominated by the Governor for sanctuary protection, and the nomination was endorsed by a diverse coalition of organizations and individuals at local, state, regional and national levels including elected officials, businesses, environmental, recreation, conservation, fishing and tourism groups, museums, historical societies and education groups. The area contains a collection of 39 known shipwrecks, 15 of which are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Fifteen of the known shipwrecks are essentially intact, and three vessels possess standing masts – a rarity in the Great Lakes.
• Mallows Bay-Potomac River. Mallows Bay-Potomac River in Maryland is a 14-square mile area of the tidal Potomac River, adjacent to Charles County. Nearly 200 vessels spanning from the Revolutionary War through the present are found in the area, including the remains of the largest “Ghost Fleet” of World War I wooden steamships built for the U.S. Emergency Fleet, which are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Mallows Bay is largely undeveloped and has been identified as one of the most ecologically valuable in Maryland providing important habitat for fish and wildlife, including rare, threatened, and endangered species. Mallows Bay-Potomac River was nominated by the former Governor of Maryland in September 2014, and the nomination was endorsed by a diverse coalition of local, state, regional and national groups.
NOTE: Featured Image is Port Washington Pierhead Light, Port Washington, Wisconsin. Photo credit www.mightymac.org.