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 about the lands or waters that have been conserved or restored to Americans.
Wednesday’s listening session was the second in a series of three sessions that were part of a public consultation period on 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.
Kelsey Lamp is my name and I direct the Oceans Campaigns for Environment America. First, I would like to thank President Biden and his commitment to protect 30 percent of the oceans by 2030.
Warming oceans and pollution have made it difficult for marine species like corals, sea turtles, whales and others to survive. Marine protected areas (MPAs), are an important tool to ensure that they have a brighter future.
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-to fully-protected areas.
The Atlas should outline which areas of America’s oceans are already protected with high-to-full, continuous protections. It should also differentiate between levels of protection using the guidelines set out in The MPA guideSo that we can assess the impact of protections upon biodiversity.
Even though the U.S. may have protected some areas of marine habitats, many others are not yet included in our network. To meet or exceed the national goal of 30 by 30 oceans, we should set aside a diverse range of habitats in protected areas.
This will ensure that future generations can enjoy the ocean for many more years.
Thank you for your time.
Photo: David J. Ruck/NOAA