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President Obama declared important protections for the northern Bering Sea and Bering Strait region.This is such wonderful news for the Alaska Native peoples and diverse wildlife like beluga whales and bowhead whales, walruses, polar bears and ribbon seals that call the Bering Strait home.
Climate change and the melting of Arctic sea ice are having dramatic impacts on this region already. As Arctic sea ice melts, the area also becomes more accessible for ship traffic, industrial fishing and oil drilling, posing a threat to Arctic wildlife and the subsistence way of life.
This new declaration by President Obama will put in place critical safeguards to keep this globally significant place safe from the expansion of bottom trawl fisheries, impacts from vessel traffic and the hazards of oil drilling. The Executive Order also puts in place a system of comprehensive management which ensures a role for Alaska Natives in decisions impacting the marine waters on which they depend, and ensures that traditional knowledge will be utilized in all federal decision-making.
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