James Cameron, director of Hollywood blockbusters Avatar, The Abyss, and Titanic, has penned a letter to President Barack Obama asking him to “finish the work of protecting the Mariana Trench Marine National Monument through a national marine sanctuary designation.”
Cameron is also the only human to ever dive solo to Challenger Deep in the Mariana Trench, the deepest point in the world’s ocean.
The letter states that the Obama Administration has built a legacy of ocean protection unrivaled by any president in American history. The letter also points to the role of the ocean as the planet’s largest ecosystem and crucial role as a climate regulator.
“Large, strongly protected marine reserves have emerged as important policy solutions [that] carry the dual benefit of both marine climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies,” wrote Cameron. “By increasing ocean health, strongly protected marine reserves are one of the most efficient means to protect Earth and its climate.”
The International Union for Conservation of Nature recommends protecting 30 percent of the ocean.
“We are thankful to Mr. Cameron for helping us bring more protection to the Mariana Trench,” said Ignacio Cabrera, chairman of the Friends of the Marianas Trench. “His dive in 2012 shone a bright light on our unique and globally significant natural resources, now he is helping us bring attention to the need to protect it for our kids and their kids.”
In September, Gov. Ralph Deleon Guerrero Torres and Delegate Gregorio Kilili C. Sablan (Ind-MP) wrote to Obama, kicking off a local effort to bring the NOAA Sanctuary program to the Northern Mariana Islands.
The plan has raised the ire of the vice chair of the controversial Western Pacific Regional Fisheries Management Council, who argues that industrial fishing and deep sea mining are a better use of these rare ecosystems and natural resources. However, the plan enjoys the support of nearly every elected official in the Northern Mariana Islands, including the Legislature, mayors, and municipal council members.