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Participants in the third Our Ocean conference, held September 15-16 in Washington, D.C., announced over 136 new initiatives on marine conservation and protection valued at more than $5.24 billion, as well as new commitments on the protection of almost four million square kilometers (over 1.5 million square miles) of the ocean.

“We have to keep the momentum going so that we can come together and protect our ocean. Why? Because our ocean is absolutely essential for life itself – not just the food, but the oxygen and weather cycles of the planet all depend on the ocean,” said U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.

“Together, in the last two days, we have created over 40 significant new or expanded marine protected areas,” said Kerry in his closing remarks at the conference. “In total, the steps taken this year – just this year – will protect nearly four million square kilometers of ocean water… and we are hopeful that that number is going to grow as the Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources convenes next week to consider an MPA in the Ross Sea.

“It is really significant that just focused on marine pollution, more than $1 billion has been committed to be put forward here, and five countries announced nationwide plastic bag bans.

“Several new announcements were made about new projects that are going to help us to better understand the impacts of climate change on our ocean and make sure that we understand all the options to be able to adapt to them. For example, my government announced the development of two cutting-edge satellites that we’re going to send into space in order to help us understand better what is happening in the ocean – in addition to the $38 million that we committed to the Pacific Island nations whose very existence is at stake due to rising seas, threatened fisheries and the other impacts of climate change.”

To date the three Our Ocean conferences have generated commitments valued at over $9.2 billion to protect oceans and committed to protect 9.9 million square kilometers (3.8 million square miles) of ocean – an area the size of the United States. The commitments focus on the key ocean issues of marine protected areas, sustainable fisheries, marine pollution and climate-related impacts on the ocean.