This week at the second annual Our Ocean conference, President Obama announced plans to create two marine sanctuaries in Maryland’s Potomac River and Lake Michigan.
Obama’s big news was part of the event’s kick-off in Valparaiso, Chile. In a video message, the president announced the two marine sanctuaries, the first new national marine sanctuaries designated by the federal government in the past 15 years.
“Our economies, our livelihoods, and our food all depend on our oceans, and yet we know that our actions are changing them,” Obama said in his message. “Today, I can announce we are taking steps to create two new marine sanctuaries. These actions will protect waters of historic and national importance, and in the coming months, I will look for opportunities to protect even more of our waters.”
One of the sanctuaries will be an 875-square mile section of Lake Michigan off the shore of Wisconsin, which is known for 39 shipwrecks, with 15 listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The other is a 14-square mile stretch of tidal waters in Maryland, which includes Mallows Bay, an area of ecological significance, and home to bald eagles, herons, beavers, river otters and numerous species of fish.
“The United States is committed to working with our international partners to protect our oceans and protect our planet,” Obama said in the video. “Because I refuse to leave our children a planet that’s beyond their capacity to repair.”
These two new marine sanctuaries follow the Obama administration’s plans to increase the size a pair of sanctuaries off of the northern California coast. Earlier, the president used his authority as an executive to expand the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument, which now covers over 500,000 square miles, making it the largest in the world.