Barack Obama Safeguarded More Ocean Than Any Other President

Jason Lock

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Updated 2079d ago

Today, the US of A Presidency will transfer from Barak Obama to Donald Trump. For us ocean-goers, the legacy left behind from the former commande-in-chief is one that has seen more waters protected under his stewardship than any other President.

In fact, as Obama vacates the Oval Office to make way for the Trump administration, he's quadrupled the amount of protected zones in North American waters as well as pushed campaigns highlighting the deterimental impact of climate change.

And does that surprise? The ex-President was born and grew up in Hawaii, bodysurfing off Honolulu's Sandy Beach Park. In an interview with the New York Times, Obama spoke about the need to change perceptions about climate change and that he set about putting in frameworks to take specific action to combat it.

He said: ''If you talk to the average person they'll understand this is something serious and we have to do something about it. Translating concern into action is the challenge and part of what makes climate change difficult is that it is not an instantaneous catastrophic event.

''It is a slow moving issue that on a day-to-day basis people don't see or experience. So part of our goal throughout my Presidency is to raise awareness but also then to create frameworks, structures and rules that allow us to take specific action in ways that create economic opportunity and improve people's well-being.''

Obama added the first marine monument in the Atlantic back in September 2015, perhaps the headline act of his conservation movement. It's a 4,900 square mile zone off the coast of Cape Cod, which is home to ancient corals, deep diving sperm whales, dormant undersea volcanoes and much more - and now they're federally protected.

In 2014, he expanded the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument (set up by George W Bush) by six fold. The Monument is teeming with life and covers almost 500,000 square miles – and for a time, it was the largest marine reserve on the planet, until Obama broke that record in 2016.

And, right on the cusp of the Presidency changing administrations, Obama unleashed his final act of safeguarding part of the ocean, by adding six areas to the California Coastal National Monument – which puts a stop to any drilling or development in the 6,230- acre area.

This adds to the other designation he made last month in the Pacific, when he expanded Hawaii's Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument to a total of 443,000 square miles – which again protects the area from fishing, drilling and mining. The President can designate national monuments out of public lands, without congressional approval. Obama also added 48,000 acres to the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument in southwestern Oregon and Northern California.

He also invested in coastal organisations. Under his Presidency, the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration has expanded marine sanctuaries and created the first new ones in 15-years.

However, Obama has faced criticism during his eight years steering the USA. More recently attacked by Trump's team - who do not share Obama's views on climate change. Donald slammed Obama's remark that climate change poses one of the greatest threats to the US as one of the ''dumbest things'' he's ever said.

It's certainly tumultuous times on US shores, opinion over the incumbent split, protests set to stage today with numbers in the thousands – on equal par are those supportive of the Don. But can ocean-lovers, goers, surfers et al rely on the shoulders of Trump to speak out for the benefit of the planet's climate? It all remains to be seen.