The Friends of the Monument traveled to Washington, DC earlier this month to ask President Bush to make a bold move. We asked him to change the way we manage our oceans and to create the largest no-take marine reserve on the planet. Doing so would not only protect one of the world's most unique geological and biological hotspots, but it would also set a new standard for ocean conservation for other nations to follow.
Since then media reports have stated that President Bush is considering scaling back the protections proposed by the Friends of the Monument and the 6000 residents who signed our petition.
Today the LA Times joined us in our call to create the monument the people of the Marianas want:
According to the Washington Post, the first lady supports the sanctuaries and has requested briefings on them from scientists and White House aides, while Vice President Cheney opposes them. Backing up Cheney are the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council, a federal agency that regulates fishing from Hawaii to Guam, and many political leaders in the Marianas, who complain that the designation would harm their economy. Yet the majority of residents of the Marianas seem to disagree with their leaders; polls and petitions of the islands' 10,000 registered voters show strong support. Most likely, that's because they recognize that the rich marine life surrounding the islands is more valuable as a tourist attraction than as a fishing spot. Moreover, the fishery council has proved itself a poor steward of fish stocks, and seems unclear on the concept that sanctuaries don't just improve fish populations within the protected area, but in surrounding areas as well.That last line of the editorial is probably the funniest thing I've read since hotdog-gate.
Bush should designate these monuments, and impose the maximum allowable protections, because it's the right thing to do -- enhancing biodiversity and helping to ward off the threats of overfishing and pollution to our oceans. But if that's not enough to convince him, he should consider that he doesn't have to sleep next to Cheney for the rest of his life.