Sunday, January 18, 2009

Bush Establishes Massive Pacific Island Protected Zone 2009

The story reads like this:

WASHINGTON -- President George W. Bush plans to designate three remote Pacific island chains as national monuments in what will be the largest marine conservation effort in history equal to an area roughly the size of Spain. The three areas -- totaling some 195,280 square miles -- are expected to include the Mariana Trench along the Northern Mariana Islands, Rose Atoll in American Samoa and seven islands in the central Pacific Ocean. These areas are made up islands, reefs, atolls and underwater mountain ranges that are home to countless species. Large migratory, resting and feeding sea birds, and endangered animals such as sea turtles will also benefit from this new protection.

Picture courtesy of NOAA

These areas will be designated as marine national monuments under provisions of the 1906 Antiquities Act, which is used to protect scientific and historical sites.

"The monuments will prohibit resource destruction or extraction, waste dumping and commercial fishing," President Bush said.

The designations prohibit commercial fishing inside the monument boundaries. Sport fishing, scientific research, and other types of activities require case-by-case permits. The goal is preservation and the ability to sustain marine life and the quality of these ecosystems.

Potential problems according to the CSM include " ... interagency squabbles and the money needed to monitor activities in the remote monuments and enforce regulations."

The opponents of this action include the sports fishing industry as well as those who want to drill for oil and gas. Here is a typical comment:
"Clearly, the purpose of nationalizing 335 thousand square miles of the South Pacific seabeds was to place thousands of miles of unowned seabeds off limit by preventing entrepreneurial oil speculators from tapping into some of the richest oil and natural gas properties in the world."
The author goes on to further discuss this:

"In the seabeds around the Mariana Trench and Rose Atoll National Monuments, geologists have identified hard minerals like phosphorite, abyssal manganese, ferromanganese, cobalt, sulfide, olivine, feldspar, clinopyroxene, opaline, silica, and pyrite as well as hydrathermal deposits of gold and silver and the world's richest deposits of baryte (barite). In addition, under the seabeds in the Pacific Remote Islands is the world's largest oil and natural gas reserves. Preliminary estimates suggest the oil and natural gas reserves under the Pacific Remote Islands Monument will dwarf the combined reserves under the North Slope or Alaska and the Arabian Peninsula.. In 2005 Standard Oil entered into an IPO with China National Oil [CNOOC] to further explore and develop the oil and natural gas deposits in the seabeds under the Pacific Remote Islands Monument and the Rose Atoll Monument."
This case is an excellent example of the continuing fight between environmentalists and those who believe that these types of natural resources are there to be put to economic use in mining, fishing, and oil and gas.

No comments: