THE WHITE HOUSE AT WORK
Monday, June 12, 2000
THE CLINTON-GORE ADMINISTRATION:
LAUNCHING A NEW ERA OF OCEAN EXPLORATION
"We must continue as a nation to set out for new frontiers, whether under the sea or into the heavens. We must continue to try to conquer the seemingly impossible -- to discover the unimaginable, to find out more about what's out there, and in the process, about ourselves and what's here."
President Bill Clinton
Monday, June 12, 2000
Today, at the White House, President Clinton and First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton hosted the White House Millennium Council Millennium Matinee, Exploration: Under the Sea, Beyond the Stars, where the President unveiled actions to embark on a new era of ocean exploration. The President announced that federal researchers will lead three undersea expeditions in waters off New York-New Jersey, Florida, and California, and directed the Department of Commerce to convene a panel of experts to develop recommendations for a national oceans exploration strategy. The discussion was broadcast via satellite to locations around the country, and cybercast over the Internet.
Launching a New Era of Ocean Exploration. Scientists estimate that over 90% of our underwater world remains unknown and unseen. What remains to be explored could hold clues to the origins of life, cures for human diseases, answers to the sustainable use of the oceans, and other valuable information. Today, the President announced two major actions in establishing a national strategy to expand exploration of the oceans:
The Commerce Department, in collaboration with marine research institutions and universities, will lead three undersea expeditions over the coming months:
- The 30-mile long, 9000-foot high Davidson Seamount off central California, rising from the ocean floor roughly 80 miles southwest of Monterey.Davidson Seamount's rock surfaces are home to a mixture of unusual deep sea animals, including large, dense patches of sponges and extremely old coral forests.
- Hudson River Canyon, the most predominant underwater feature on the eastern seaboard, situated less than 100 miles southeast of New York City.Initial explorations of the Canyon reveal that it is home to many economically and ecologically valuable species.
- Deep reefs and seeps off Florida's Gulf coast.Far below the reach of sunlight, these areas deep below the Gulf of Mexico are home to what could be the oldest life forms on the planet.
Under the President's direction, Commerce Secretary Daley will convene a panel of leading ocean explorers, educators, and scientists, and report within 120 days on recommendations for a national oceans exploration strategy, including:
- Defining objectives and priorities and noting important scientific, historic, and cultural sites;
- Promoting collaboration with education, research, and private-sector organizations;
- Examining the potential for new technologies; and
- Ensuring that newly discovered organisms with medicinal or commercial potential are identified for possible research and development.
Continuing a Commitment to Ocean Protection. Two years ago today, President Clinton, First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, and Vice President Gore joined members of the Cabinet and others at the National Ocean Conference in Monterey, California. At the conference, the President announced new efforts to restore coral reefs, rebuild marine fisheries, and protect our coasts from oil drilling. The President also directed his Cabinet to develop recommendations for a coordinated, long-term federal ocean policy. In its report last year, Turning to the Sea: America's Ocean Future, the Cabinet outlined an ambitious strategy to protect and sustainably use our ocean resources. Last month, President Clinton took a major step in implementing that strategy with an Executive Order directing agencies to expand and strengthen the nation's network of marine protected areas. Today's actions represent another step in response to key recommendations by the Cabinet to help expand our knowledge of the sea.
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