NG Fellow Influences Marine Conservation Act

Many of you will recall our interview with National Geographic Fellow Enric Sala during Geography Awareness Week.  Today, we happily announce that Enric has played an influencing role in President Bush’s decision to protect nearly 200,000 square miles in the western and central Pacific Ocean.


pacific_islands_map.JPGEnric has extensively studied the coral reefs surrounding the Line Islands, now one of three marine monuments created under Bush’s protection act which also calls for preserving the Rose Atoll on American Samoa and the Mariana Islands.  Enric provided concrete reasons for the area’s conservation from his research.  He is one of few people who have visited the islands and seen firsthand the direct impacts of human activity on the health of the marine ecosystems in the surrounding waters.

While this historic conservation act will restrict commercial fishing as well as oil and gas exploration, these limits will only extend 50 miles off the coast of each island, instead of the full 200 entitled to the U.S. through the UN Law of the Sea Treaty.  Enric, along with many other scientists, pointed out that these biologically rich areas aren’t isolated, but interconnected with the marine environment on a larger scale– thus a 50 mile “buffer zone” may not be enough to protect delicate ecosystems from the combined detrimental effects of human activities!
Despite its debated shortcomings, we applaud this historic conservation act which recognizes the intrinsic value of Earth’s natural resources. If you’d like to read more, visit NPR and the Washington Post for in-depth coverage and more from Enric.  Make sure to let us know what you think of this act, which makes President Bush the leading marine conservationist in history!

~Bethany for My Wonderful World

Images courtesy of National Geographic/Zafer Kizilkaya and SeattlePi

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