THE WHITE HOUSE
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Today, President Clinton signed legislation extending protection for America's special ocean habitats. The President signed the National Marine Sanctuaries Amendments Act of 2000 (S. 1482), thereby extending and improving the management of the nation's 13 marine sanctuaries. Marine sanctuaries protect Florida's fragile coral reefs, lush kelp forests off Monterey Bay and the Channel Islands, nursing grounds for Hawaii's humpback whales, and significant maritime history including the Civil War ironclad USS Monitor.
Preserving America's Marine Treasures Congress established the National Marine Sanctuary Program in 1972, one hundred years after the establishment of Yellowstone National Park, our nation's first National Park. Marine sanctuaries extend this nation's proud conservation ethic to the sea, and today 13 marine sanctuaries provide increased protections for over 18,000 square miles of ocean habitat. National marine sanctuaries enjoy broad bipartisan support, and the President acknowledged the Congressional leadership of this legislation for their efforts. Over the past seven years, the Administration has worked with Congress to increase funding for the sanctuary program fivefold to $26 million, with an additional increase requested for this fiscal year. We have also added new sanctuaries off Massachusetts, Florida, Washington, Hawaii, and, most recently, Michigan.
In administering the marine sanctuaries, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, marine sanctuaries work with local citizens to find the best possible solutions to the tough challenges communities face in protecting the marine environment. A recent report by the National Research Council provides strong scientific support for the use of marine protected areas, such as marine sanctuaries, to sustain fisheries, preserve valuable habitats, provide outdoor leisure opportunities, and maintain healthy marine ecosystems. On May 26, President Clinton issued an executive order calling for more effective use of marine protected areas.
Extending Ocean Conservation, Encouraging the Next Generation of Scientists In signing the National Marine Sanctuaries Amendment Act, the President reaffirmed this nation's commitment to ocean conservation. In addition to strengthening and extending the sanctuary program, the Act provides the following:
Safeguarding Our Oceans and Coasts. The Clinton-Gore Administration continues to work for healthier beaches and cleaner coastal waters, greater protection for endangered and threatened marine species, sound fisheries management, and support for marine protected areas. To better address long-term challenges, the President and Vice President launched a national dialogue leading to a comprehensive strategy for strengthening federal ocean policy for the 21st century.
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