| WASHINGTON, Sept 15
WASHINGTON, Sept 15 The United States on
Thursday will join more than 20 countries to announce the
creation of 40 new marine sanctuaries around the world to
protect the world's oceans from the threat of climate change and
The sanctuaries, set to be unveiled at a high-level
conference in Washington, will include the first such U.S.
monument in the Atlantic Ocean. The protected areas are meant to
limit commercial development and human impacts on ocean
Altogether, countries attending the oceans conference will
announce the addition of new sanctuaries covering nearly 460,000
square miles of ocean, an area around the size of the nation of
President Barack Obama will address the conference on
Thursday, where he will unveil the designation of a U.S. marine
monument off the coast of New England, the White House said.
The 4,913 square mile sanctuary, containing underwater
mountains and canyons, will be the first national marine reserve
in the Atlantic.
The move follows the administration's decision to expand a
massive reserve off the coast of Hawaii last month, as Obama
looks to cement his environmental legacy before his tenure ends
Opponents of the new Atlantic monument have complained that
it threatens the commercial seafood industry in the region. The
administration said the reserve was designed to protect only the
most vulnerable areas.
"We feel the approach is well justified and will help
support a sustainable ecosystem over the long term," a senior
administration official said.
The conference will emphasize the urgent need to combat
illegal fishing, pollution and the acidification of the ocean,
which is destroying coral reefs and shellfish, said Catherine
Novelli, the U.S. under secretary for economic growth, energy,
and the environment at the State Department.
"We're expecting over a hundred new initiatives that are
going to be worth billions of dollars," Novelli told reporters
ahead of the conference at the U.S. State Department.
Programs to protect coastal areas and rid the seas of
plastic debris are among the many initiatives to be announced.
Novelli said plastic debris was running into the ocean at
such a pace that by 2050 there would be more plastic than fish
in the sea.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who will also address
the conference on Thursday, has made climate change and
protecting the ocean a priority during his term, traveling to
the Arctic in June to highlight the impact of warming oceans on
some of the world's largest glaciers in Norway and Greenland.
(Reporting by Ayesha Rascoe and Lesley Wroughton; Editing by