Thumbs Up for President Obama who Announces Plan to Protect Alaska’s Bristol Bay From Future Oil and Gas Drilling!!!

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In a White house press release and video message posted online, President Obama announced his plan to designate Bristol Bay as off limits to consideration for oil and gas leasing, exploration and drilling — an action that will safeguard waters that help provide 40 percent of USA’s wild-caught seafood, support a $2 billion annual fishing industry, and are vital to the commercial fishing and tourism economy and to Alaska Native communities.

In a Press release by the white house…

President Obama designated the pristine waters of Bristol Bay as off limits to consideration for oil and gas leasing.  This action safeguards one of the nation’s most productive fisheries and preserves an ecologically rich area of the Bering Sea off the coast of Alaska that is vital to the commercial fishing and tourism economy and to Alaska Native communities.”

Using his executive powers Obama proclamated (see Youtube clip):

Under Authority granted me in Section 12(a) of the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, 43 USC 1341(a), this withdrawal prevents consideration of this area for any oil or gas leasing for purposes of exploration, development or production.”

According to the Whitehouse Press release:

Bristol Bay is at the heart one of the world’s most valuable fisheries, helping to provide 40 percent of America’s wild-caught seafood and support a $2 billion annual fishing industry.  The beautiful and remote area is also an economic engine for tourism in Alaska, driving $100 million in recreational fishing and tourism activity every year. Bristol Bay hosts the largest runs of wild sockeye salmon in the world, and provides important habitat for many species, including the threatened Stellar’s eider, sea otters, seals, walruses, Beluga and Killer whales, and the endangered North Pacific Right Whale. 

Today’s decision to withdraw the area from all future oil and gas leasing extends indefinitely a temporary withdrawal that President Obama issued in 2010 and was set to expire in 2017.  This action builds on decades of local efforts to protect Bristol Bay from oil and gas development by Alaska Native tribes and organizations, as well as local seafood and tourism businesses that create jobs and strengthen Alaska and the nation’s economy. It also honors the legacy of Alaska residents like Harold ‘Harvey’ Samuelsen, a salmon fisherman who is legendary for his lifelong dedication to Bristol Bay and to creating economic opportunities for Alaska Native and rural communities.

The North Aleutian Basin Planning Area that includes Bristol Bay consists of approximately 32.5 million acres, a portion of which was leased in the mid-1980s but never developed due to litigation.  The previous Administration set in motion a new lease sale for 2011 that would have opened approximately 5.6 million acres – about one-fifth of the planning area – for drilling.

In 2010, President Obama temporarily withdrew the Bristol Bay area from oil and gas development, exercising his authority under section 12 of the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, which gives the President authority to withdraw offshore areas from potential oil and gas leasing. President Eisenhower was the first to exercise the authority in 1960, withdrawing an area now included in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. Since then, Presidents on both sides of the aisle have acted to withdraw areas of the Outer Continental Shelf from oil and gas leasing.

Under the Outer Continental Shelf Land Act of 1953, the Department of the Interior develops a new leasing program every five years for energy development in federal offshore waters.

The current Five Year Program for 2012–2017, which expires in August 2017, schedules 15 potential lease sales in six planning areas with the greatest resource potential, including more than 75 percent of the estimated undiscovered, technically recoverable oil and gas resources in federal offshore waters.

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) is currently developing the 2017-2022 program, which includes opportunities for public comment.

Map Showing Area of Bristol bay, Alaska being protected by Obama's Proclamation (Source: http://www.pewtrusts.org/en/research-and-analysis/collections/protecting-bristol-bay)

Map Showing Area of Bristol bay, Alaska being protected by Obama’s Proclamation (Source: http://www.pewtrusts.org/en/research-and-analysis/collections/protecting-bristol-bay)

Culmination of Years of Campaigning by eNGOs, Fishers and other organisation

This Action by the US President must have come as GIGANTIC relief for a multitude of campaigners that have been working hard for years, trying to ensure the protection of this pristine wilderness area.

Bristol Bay Wilderness: (Source: http://pool32mag.blogspot.com.au/2010/05/save-bristol-bay-from-threatening_1016.html Photo: Erin McKittrick)

Bristol Bay Wilderness: (Source: http://pool32mag.blogspot.com.au/2010/05/save-bristol-bay-from-threatening_1016.html Photo: Erin McKittrick)

For more information about Bristol Bay
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Flight of the Pelican: Beak-mounted GoPro camera shows a young pelican taking its first flight!

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This video has been making the rounds…. Of course it has! It is one of the internet videos that makes one smile.

Stuff described it:

Learning to fly . . . spreading your wings . . . letting your spirit soar . . . birds give us our metaphors for realising potential. Perhaps that’s why this video, that looks right into the eyes of a pelican taking wing for the first time, feels so good.

The Back Story

According to the Greystoke Mahale Blog the young orphaned pelican [named “Big Bird”] was saved by staff at Greystoke Safaris in Tanzania after being washed ashore after a storm on Lake Tanganyika.

He [Big Bird] was young but already large, maybe 3 months old then. He couldn’t fish without his flock. This species doesn’t dive for fish, instead they corral the fish co-operating with each other and then scoop the cornered prey into their large stretchy pouches below the bill. So we have been given permission from Tanapa, the park authority to feed him…

He didn’t fly for some weeks but with encouragement he got the idea. We aren’t sure how much flying he may have already done before arriving here but he was pretty shaky in his next attempts on the beach. We would run up and down flapping our arms and simulating flight for him. He would look on curiously until one day he showed us how it was done!

"Big Bird": The orphaned pelican who was filmed from the moment the giant bird took to the air.  Source: Grey Stoke Mahale Blog [http://www.nomad-tanzania.com/blogs/greystoke-mahale/flight-of-the-big-bird]

“Big Bird”: The orphaned pelican who was filmed from the moment the giant bird first took flight.
Source: Grey Stoke Mahale Blog
http://www.nomad-tanzania.com/blogs/greystoke-mahale/flight-of-the-big-bird