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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release June 12, 1998


At the National Ocean Conference in Monterey, California, President Clinton and Vice President Gore are launching a series of major initiatives to explore, protect and restore America's vital ocean resources. These measures will provide new scientific insight into the oceans, promote sustainable use of fisheries and other marine resources, open new opportunities for jobs and economic growth, preserve national security and freedom of the seas, and help preserve our oceans for all time. The President and Vice President are proposing an additional $224 million through 2002 to support these efforts.

Protecting our Oceans from Offshore Oil Drilling. To protect our oceans and coasts from the environmental risks of offshore oil and gas drilling, the President is issuing a directive extending the moratorium on offshore leasing for an additional ten years, and permanently barring new leasing in national marine sanctuaries.

Building Sustainable Fisheries. To restore America's fisheries, and sustain the coastal communities that depend on them, the Administration is announcing measures to reduce overfishing and protect essential fish habitats -- including a ban on the sale or import of undersized Atlantic swordfish. The Administration is proposing an additional $194 million over five years to speed implementation, and is calling on other nations to undertake similar efforts.

Ports for the 21st Century. To maintain competitiveness and ensure America's ability to safely handle the increase in ocean vessel traffic expected in the 21st century, the Administration is launching a ports modernization program financed by a proposed new Harbor Services Fund. The fund would raise $800 million over the next five years to deepen and maintain shipping channels, improve navigational safety, and undertake other port projects.

Joining the Law of the Sea Convention. To maintain America's leadership in international ocean affairs, the President is calling on the U.S. Senate to recognize the breadth of support among all sectors of the U.S. ocean community for the Law of the Sea Convention, and to clear the way for the United States to join the Convention as a fitting celebration of the Year of the Ocean.

Protecting Coral Reefs. To strengthen protection of natural coral reefs in U.S. waters, President Clinton has signed an executive order directing Federal agencies to expand research, preservation and restoration activities. The President is proposing an additional $6 million through 2002 to speed these efforts and complete restoration of 18 damaged reefs in the Atlantic, Caribbean and Pacific.

Exploring the Last U.S. Frontier. To unravel deep-sea mysteries, discover new opportunities in the ocean, and better understand how to protect marine resources, the Administration is launching a program to map and explore U.S. ocean waters with advanced underwater technology. A proposed $12 million through 2002 will be used to expand two shallow-water observatories, build two new deep-sea observatories, and develop two high-tech "submersibles" to explore exotic sea life. A new initiative will be launched in partnership with the National Geographic Society and Goldman Foundation to explore our National Marine Sanctuaries. Protecting our Beaches and Coastal Waters. To help protect the Nation's beaches and coastal waters - as well as public health - the Vice President is announcing a new website listing beach advisories and closings, and a coordinated strategy to respond to toxic algal blooms. He and President Clinton also are calling on Congress to fully fund the Administration's Clean Water Action Plan.

Monitoring Climate and Global Warming. To better understand the role of the oceans in shaping our weather and climate, and to help address the threat of global warming, the Administration is announcing an expanded ocean monitoring system. The Administration is proposing an additional $12 million through 2002 to place hundreds of monitoring buoys in the North Atlantic and North Pacific to measure critical ocean data.

Public Access to Military Data and Technology. To help increase our understanding of marine life, and to enhance weather forecasting and climate change research, and identify valuable ocean resources, the Administration is announcing the declassification and release of secret and restricted Navy data. The Department of Defense also will produce computer-based nautical charts replacing the paper charts used by mariners for centuries - a significant advance in marine safety.