National Public Radio has just reported that President Bush is considering the creation of a number of marine reserves. If created, they would represent a huge conservation program, one of the largest ever.
This would be cool, if it happens. Evidently it’s all still in the planning stages, and the Bush administration has not commented publicly on exactly which areas would be protected. Strong possibilities, according to Jay Nelson of the Pew Environment Group, are an area in the Central Pacific including the islands of Palmyra, Howland and Baker, an area in the Western Pacific around the Northern Mariana Islands, and a 500-square-mile reserve around Rose Atoll in the South Pacific east of Australia. (Note that Rose Atoll itself is already designated a National Wildlife Refuge protecting, among other creatures, migratory sea birds, the endangered hawksbill sea turtle, and a rare species of giant clam.
Being designated as reserves would protect these areas from fishing and energy exploration.
But what about the water flowing into and around them? It wouldn’t get the U.S. off the hook in terms of signing the Kyoto Protocol and creating a consistent policy for coping with climate change and ocean acidification. Might this not just be blue-washing on the part of the Bush administration?