Barack Obama creates the first marine sanctuary in the Atlantic Ocean

Il presidente statunitense ha istituito una nuova riserva marina per proteggere una vasta area del Pacifico, caratterizzata da canyon sottomarini ricchi di biodiversità.

The second term of the President of the United States, Barack Obama, is coming to an end, but there’s still a mission to be accomplished: protecting oceans. “We cannot truly protect our planet without protecting our oceans,” Obama said.

atlantic ocean
An octopus species native to the Physalia Seamount, Atlantic Ocean © Noaa

Atlantic Ocean’s first marine protected area

After he recently quadrupled the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument in Hawaii, Obama has now established Atlantic Ocean’s first marine sanctuary, the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument. In the new marine sanctuary, which extends for 13,000 square kilometres off the coasts of New England (an area almost the size of Connecticut), hydrocarbon extractions, drilling and commercial fishing will be banned.


Submarine canyons and mounts

The marine monument includes three submarine canyons and mounts, and thanks to its peculiar structure it has been dubbed as the “Yellowstone of the Sea”. The area represents an ideal shelter to a number of animal and plant species, including Kemp’s ridley sea turtles (Lepidochelys kempii), the world’s most threatened turtle species, sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus), kelp forests, and cold-water corals.

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Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument, Atlantic Ocean © Brian Skerry

Protecting oceans to help the climate

Ocean protection not only represents a victory to creatures populating them, but it also is a gift to the world. Oceans play a crucial role in regulating our planet’s climate. In fact, covering 70 per cent of the Earth, oceans absorb around 40 per cent of CO2 emissions generated by human-related activities. “By protecting ecologically sensitive areas of our ocean, the United States is leading on an issue that is important to people on every continent because of the ocean’s connection to food security, shared prosperity, and resiliency in the face of climate change,” said US Secretary of State John Kerry.

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