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Ocean Conservancy Welcomes Reinstatement of Northern Bering Sea Climate Resilience Area

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Washington, D.C. – The following statement was issued by Ocean Conservancy’s CEO Janis Searles Jones (@InVeritas_Jones) in reaction to President Biden’s “Executive Order on Protecting Public Health and the Environment and Restoring Science to Tackle the Climate Crisis” issued on January 20, 2021:

“Starting on Day 1, the Biden-Harris administration has delivered for our ocean, climate resilience and Alaska Native communities by reinstating Executive Order 13754 that established the Northern Bering Sea Climate Resilience Area.

“President Biden’s action honors the work led by Kawerak Inc., the Association of Village Council Presidents and the Bering Sea Elders Group advocating for more than 70 federally recognized tribes in the region. They rallied for the original designation in 2016 and then fought to have it reinstated when it was rescinded by the previous administration.

“This action provides a pathway for tribes to have a meaningful role in management of the Bering Strait and the Northern Bering Sea, an area that they have stewarded for millennia. It recognizes the importance of and threats to one of the most environmentally and culturally significant places on our planet.

“The Executive Order emphasizes the importance of incorporating Indigenous knowledge in decision-making and establishes policy guidelines to address pollution from shipping, bottom trawling, oil and mineral extraction, marine debris and oil spill preparedness. These measures cannot come soon enough in a region that is warming three times faster than the rest of the planet.

“The Northern Bering Sea and Bering Strait comprise one of the most historically, environmentally, and culturally significant places on our planet. It is home to Indigenous communities and vibrant local economies that are intrinsically tied to the Arctic ecosystem. It also sustains one of the largest marine migrations on the planet. Bowhead and beluga whales, walruses, seals and over 12 million birds from all over the world pass through the waters of the Bering Strait every summer.

“Ocean Conservancy joins the tribes of the Bering Sea in celebrating the reinstatement of the Northern Bering Sea Climate Resilience Area and reaffirms our commitment to supporting sustainable management decisions and tribal sovereignty in the region. We hope this model can be improved and expanded to provide for greater Indigenous management in this region and other marine areas.  ”

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Ocean Conservancy experts are available for comment upon request.

NOTES TO EDITOR

  • Bering Sea Elders Group, Kawerak, Inc., Association of Village Council Presidents and Aleut Community of St. Paul Island issued this statement welcoming President Biden’s Day 1 executive actions.
  • President Trump’s Executive Order 13795 “Implementing an America First Offshore Energy Strategy” revoked the Bering Sea Climate Resilience Area in May 2017.
map showing the boundaries of the Northern Bering Sea Climate Resilience Area

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