President Barack Obama wants to add to a huge swath of the Pacific Ocean set aside to protect it from drilling, fishing and other activities that could harm marine life, CBS News reported.
In a video message, Obama announced plans to combat illegal fishing that threatens the livelihood of those who earn an honest living in the seafood industry. The administration wants to expand the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument, an ocean preserve between Hawaii and American Samoa that is controlled by the United States.
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The preserve was first introduced in early 2009 by President George W. Bush and consists of almost 87,000 square miles.
A White House fact sheet
said the preserve is "an area which contains some of the most pristine tropical marine environments in the world. These tropical coral reefs and associated marine ecosystems are also among the most vulnerable areas to the impacts of climate change and ocean acidification."
The administration does not yet know how big the expansion of the preserve will be.
In his video message, Obama talked about his upbringing in Hawaii and how it shaped his appreciation of "the beauty and power of the ocean."
"Of course, we also know how fragile our blue planet can be," the president said. "Rising levels of carbon dioxide are causing our oceans to acidify. Over-fishing threatens whole species, as well as the people who depend on them for food and their livelihoods.
"If we ignore these problems, if we drain our oceans of their resources, we won't just be squandering one of humanity's greatest treasures, we'll be cutting off one of the world's major sources of food and economic growth, including for the United States. And we cannot afford to let that happen."
Black market fishing is another problem that threatens ocean life. The practice involves mislabeling seafood in order to hide where it came from. A form of over-fishing, it makes up around 20 percent of the wild marine fishing globally each year, according to the White House.
"That's why the United States is leading the fight to protect the world's oceans," Obama said.
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