Dear Administrator Spinrad:
As your agency implements the goal of conserving at least 30 percent of the ocean by 2030, we urge you to set meaningful ocean protections that will slow the loss of biodiversity and address the devastating impacts of climate change.
Fully or highly protected marine areas are the most effective tool we have for preserving ocean ecosystems. These strong protections provide safe havens — the ocean's equivalent of the Grand Canyon or Yellowstone National Park — where ocean life can recover and thrive without threats from commercial fishing and oil and gas drilling.
Only about 23 percent of U.S. ocean areas are fully or highly protected. These areas are almost entirely in the western Pacific and northwestern Hawaii, leaving unique, biologically rich, and highly vulnerable areas off the continental U.S. coasts unprotected.
We urge NOAA to achieve the 30 percent target through strong protections for a diversity of ocean habitats that represent the full range of America's marine ecosystems.
Thank you for inviting public input on this important initiative and helping deliver significant and lasting benefits for biodiversity, ecosystem structure and function, and climate resilience.