President Biden: Lead on ocean protections
June 25, 2021
As President Biden moves forward his 30x30 plan, we need to make sure that the Biden administration’s plan promotes protections not just here at home, but around the globe.
© Paul Hilton / Greenpeace
Remember what it’s like to feel hopeful? To feel like this is a moment we can get impressive, amazing things done, not just play defense? This is one of those times. As we wrap up June as National Ocean Month, we have a beautiful, and rare opportunity to win protections for aquatic ecosystems and the people and animals who depend on them across the globe.
Here’s what’s happening: Right now, President Biden is moving forward his 30×30 plan, a plan for the U.S. to set aside 30% of national land and ocean for protection. While this is good news here in the U.S., we need to make sure that the Biden administration’s plan promotes protections not just here at home, but around the globe.
President Biden’s leadership on the world stage is key to making these protections a reality. So, to help make sure he knows we’re looking to him for bold, science-based, international policy, I wrote him a letter. My letter is here, and I’m asking you to co-sign it with me. President Biden needs to hear from us.
There are four key areas where the U.S. can lead, with Joe Biden’s help.
Habitat and Marine Conservation:
Because of the migratory nature of marine fisheries and wildlife, our good management practices at home become for naught if we don’t insist on similar standards for the international waters that cover nearly half of our planet. To complete the vision of conservation that President Biden has started, the U.S. must join the international movement for at least 30% of the global ocean to be protected, and support a strong new Global Ocean Treaty to meet that target in international waters.
Fighting Plastic Pollution:
Simply put, the amount of plastic waste dumped into our oceans is a crisis. At home, we’re asking the Biden administration to adopt the Presidential Plastics Action Plan, a list of actions which are vital not just to protect our oceans, but also to address climate change, protect human health, and bring justice to frontline and fenceline communities most impacted by plastic production and disposal. We’re also demanding President Biden be a leader on a global scale by joining over 150 organizations in urging the U.S. to move swiftly to ratify the Basel Convention, ending waste exports to the Global South. It is time to correct the course taken under the Trump Administration, and join the hundreds of businesses, governments, and organizations that are calling for the United Nation to begin negotiating a Global Plastic Treaty.
Illegal Fishing and Human Rights:
The U.S. has an obligation, and an opportunity, to ensure that our fisheries operate sustainably and ethically, and that the seafood we import meets international environmental and labor standards and best practices. The newly introduced Illegal Fishing and Forced Labor Prevention Act would move us in the right direction. The bill would strengthen the U.S. Seafood Import Monitoring Program, and expand government powers to take action against forced labor in seafood supply chains by categorizing labor rights violations as a form of illegal fishing. The Biden administration should do everything in its power to ensure this bill passes.
Deep Sea Mining:
Cutting off the markets for minerals sourced from destructive deep sea mining is a rare opportunity to prevent a disaster before it happens. The U.S. must use our leadership to ensure that America’s policies and markets remain closed to minerals sourced from the deep seabed. Some mega-corporations, like Google, have already made this commitment, but a signal from our government that the United States stands against this destructive new industry could ensure markets for their products are never created in the first place. And the deep sea — home to the least explored ecosystems on Earth — remains protected.
Does this seem ambitious? Yes, absolutely — but here’s the thing: I know that working together, our movement can get this done. In the 50 years that Greenpeace has been doing the work, we’ve achieved groundbreaking wins for the oceans. From the ending of commercial whaling to protecting Antarctica, from pole to pole, across the globe, our science, research, and advocacy campaigns have achieved lasting, durable protections. And with the fate of our oceans at stake — the source of life for so many on the planet — I know we can do it again.
Celebrate the last few days of Oceans Month by co-signing my letter to President Biden. It’s time to get to work, I’m so glad you’re with us.
Annie Leonard and John Hocevar