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Beautiful oceans require a critical tool

Beautiful oceans require a critical tool

The America the Beautiful initiative by the Biden administration was launched on May 6, 2021. This initiative aims to conserve and restore 30% of the country’s lands and water resources. The proposed American Conservation and Stewardship Atlas by the Biden administration (Atlas), is used to measure progress in conservation and restoration. The Atlas will provide information to Americans about the lands, waters, and ecosystems that have been restored or conserved.

Wednesday was the second of three listening events that were part a public comment period for the initiative. The administration is specifically seeking input on the Atlas and how it can be used as a useful tool for people. Below is my 90-second (capped), public comment on the need to do more for ocean sanctuaries.

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Kelsey Lamp is the oceans campaign director for Environment America. First, I want President Biden to thank for his commitment to protecting 30% of our oceans by 2030.

Warming temperatures and pollution are putting stress on the oceans. This is causing marine species such as coral, sea turtles, and whales to struggle to survive. Marine protected areas (MPAs), which are vital to their survival, are an essential tool.

A 2021 Report I co-authored New Life for Oceans6 long-term, highly protected marine zones were examined. The report found that marine protections could lead to the recovery of fish populations, help endangered animals, and increase resilience of ecosystems in the face climate change and other natural disasters. The most effective conservation results are achieved in highly-protected or fully-protected areas.

The Atlas should show which areas of America’s oceans have full-to-full, permanent protections. It should also distinguish between protection levels using the guidelines in The MPA GuideSo that we can evaluate the impacts of protections on biodiversity.

Even though the U.S. may have protected some areas of marine habitats, many others are not yet included in our network. To achieve or exceed the national 30-by-30 oceans goal, we must permanently reserve a wide range of habitats in highly protected areas.

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This will ensure that future generations can enjoy the ocean for many more years.

Thank you for your time.

Photo: David J. Ruck/NOAA

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