Earlier this week, The Atlantic named President Barack Obama “The Ocean President”–and not just because he spent his gromhood getting whomped by Sandy Beach shorepound. Throughout his time in the White House, Obama has protected more land and water than any other president in U.S. history.
According to the article, during many of his speeches as POTUS, Obama made it clear that he wasn’t going to take ocean conservation lightly. “While it is our oceans’ contours that shape our coastlines, it is what we decide and do here that will shape our oceans’ future,” he once said. “I spent my childhood on those shores, looking out over the endless ocean, and was humbled by it. And I know that, in a contest between us and the oceans, eventually the oceans will win one way or the other. So it’s us that has to adapt. Not the other way around.”
The piece goes on to list many of the steps he took towards ocean preservation. Back in 2014, he expanded the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument, the world’s largest marine reserve, by six times its original size. He also quadrupled the size of the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument in Hawaii, which is home to thousands of marine species and now takes up twice the size of Texas.
This last September, President Obama set up the first marine monument off the coast of Cape Cod, which will protect sperm whales and old coral that exist in its vicinity. A month later, he reportedly persuaded the Chinese government to join the U.S. and 23 additional governments in establishing the world’s largest marine protected area in Antartica. Most recently, he and his administration set an indefinite ban on oil drilling in parts of the Atlantic and Arctic Oceans and set an Executive Order prohibiting bottom-trawl fishing, and partially prohibiting oil and gas exploration off Alaska’s western coast.
All in all, President Obama has increased the amount of protected waters around the U.S. four-fold–which is positive news for anyone who lives near the ocean, surfs in the ocean, or eats things that come from the ocean. In a time when climate change and other stressors are causing our oceans to warm and acidify, those kinds of results prove that it’s never been more important to support political figures and policy makers in favor of promoting the health of the oceans we use every day.