Office of the Vice President

For Immediate Release: Thursday, June 11, 1998


Just moments ago, I had the opportunity to board MBARI's Western Flyer, and see what is truly the future of ocean exploration and research. I saw the stunning "remotely-operated vehicle" which is able to gather specimens and geological samples, drill holes in the bottom of the ocean floor, and even take broadcast-quality video -- it's really an electronic, remote-controlled version of Jacques Cousteau.

This kind of 21st Century ocean research is absolutely critical. We depend upon our oceans for everything from food to recreation to one out of six American jobs. Our oceans have yielded enormous scientific insights -- from new understandings of global warming, to potentially life-saving cancer treatments derived from fish and marine life. Today, new threats to our oceans -- such as pollution, overfishing, and the destruction of coral reefs -- make it even more important that we explore and understand our oceans, so we can protect and preserve them for future generations.

Until very recently, we knew more about the surface of the moon than we knew about the ocean floor. That's not the way it should be. And that is why I am pleased to make four important announcements on behalf of the President that will dramatically increase our understanding of the oceans, and also bolster our efforts to protect them.

First, I am announcing a new $4 million effort to conduct a comprehensive exploration of the oceans surrounding the United States, using the most advanced underwater technology. By mapping the ocean floor, we will find more promising sources of life-saving drugs and minerals. We will discover new forms of marine life. We will locate historical artifacts, like sunken ships. And we will finally be able to assess the full economic value of our oceans to the American economy.

Second, as part of our plan to ensure clean water nationwide, we will launch new partnerships with states, local communities, and the private sector to protect America's coastal waters -- which means protecting the water we swim in, and the fish we eat. We will do more to monitor and reduce toxic waste and pollution in coastal waters -- and through a new Website, we will tell the public immediately when beaches must be closed.

Third, we know that the oceans are a driving force behind global warming, and also behind extreme weather events such as El Nino. Understanding the ocean's role can help us to better protect America's families. Today, I am announcing that by the year 2002, we will develop a new ocean monitoring system, to give us a better understanding of the critical relationship between oceans and global warming. Through improved satellites and buoys that will actually measure ocean height and temperature, we will be able to predict the regional impact of global warming much more accurately.

Fourth, we will declassify and release to the public and the scientific community secret Navy data about our oceans -- data that will teach us an enormous amount about climate and weather systems. Our military has also been developing computer-based nautical charts -- considered by many to be a giant step forward in marine navigation and safety. By releasing this information for civilian use, we will reap enormous benefits in trade, in science, and in our ability to monitor and guard against extreme weather such as global warming and El Nino.

These four new steps by the federal government will help us explore the depths of the ocean -- to better protect and advance the interests of families right here in dry land. By giving us new tools to find life-saving medicines, to understand and guard against global warming and El Nino, and to keep our water clean and our economy strong, these new actions will bring a new wave of opportunities for the American people.

President Clinton and I are committed to making the right investments -- and harnessing the latest technology -- to meet the challenges and changes posed by our oceans. For centuries, people have been enthralled by the mysteries of the sea. Our goal is to make it somewhat less mysterious, so that we can keep enjoying its benefits for centuries to come.

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