Offshore drilling puts marine life at risk


Environmental advocates are crying foul after the Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke recommended that three national marine monuments should shrink in size or open up for commercial fishing.

Ayana Elizabeth Johnson, a marine biologist and founder of the consulting group Ocean Collectiv, as well as David Kanter, a professor of environmental studies at NYU, joined Salon's Alyona Minkovski on "Salon Talks" to discuss the importance of protecting these areas and the overall threat President Trump and his team pose to the environment.

"This is part of how the environmental movement in this country started, was the protection of the natural heritage," Kanter said. "There is a very deep appreciation both in the United States, but also around the world at how the United States has organized and protected it's natural endowment."

Commercial fishing groups have long been adversaries of ocean conservation. "The U.S. has the largest exclusive economic zone in the world, the largest amount of ocean that we have jurisdiction over, bigger than any other nation," Johnson said. "And yet, we are loathe to close even a small percentage of that to fishing. It's a small sacrifice to make for long term sustainable fishing."

While the Trump administration's plan to downsize four national monuments on land received national attention and outcry from environmental advocates, the news about ocean monuments has sparked considerably less pushback. "I think there's as much passion and support for ocean conservation, but it's very much out of sight, out of mind. You can see when there's an oil spill, but you don't see when fish populations are down 90 percent and so I think that's part of the disconnect," Johnson said.

To hear more about how the Trump administration is undoing environmental protections, watch the full conversation above.

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