When it was first designated 10 years ago, the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands was the world's largest marine reserve. Since then, the sanctuary has been eclipsed in size nine times by new protected areas.
The people of Rapa cannot live without the sea. To come to our island, one must travel across the ocean because we have no airstrip. On a daily basis, the ocean is what gives us the resources we need to live on Rapa, our small island, a part of French Polynesia's Austral Islands.
This year I am very happy to reflect on an awesome milestone for our oceans -- the one year anniversary of a complete network of marine parks and reserves, dotted brilliantly along the California coast, 124 strong.
Today we celebrate the grand opening of 19 underwater parks along the beautifully rugged and wild shores of Northern California -- my Golden State can now boast of a complete set of coastal crown jewels.
This is a bad day for all of us who love the ocean. Above all, it is a bad day for the penguins, seals, killer whales, and other species that live in Antarctic waters. The problem is bigger than Antarctica, though.
No, the document that government officials produced after months of negotiation doesn't contain much that will make the planet a better place for me or my daughters. It lacks teeth. It ignores pressing issues like the need to expand renewable energy and protect ocean life on the high seas.
Australia's announcement details their plans to protect more than a third of its waters, including important deep ocean habitats like the Diamantina Fracture zone, Australia's largest under water mountain range.
Diving in Salas y Gómez was like going back in time in Easter Island. The team found an incredible amount of marine life in the marine park, including scores of Galapagos sharks, large amberjacks, huge lobsters, and colorful corals that covered the sea floor.
Next time you're lucky enough to crack open a lobster, consider this: you may be doing your part to stimulate California's economy. However, expanding marine reserves will take away about 20% of the state's lobster catch.
This decade will be remembered and felt for its impact on Nature: the species that were saved and those that were lost; the heating of the planet; the forests cut down and those that continue to provide oxygen to our children's children.