Hello everyone. Growing up along the coast of Massachusetts I developed a powerful connection to the ocean at an early age. My mother actually came from a background of folks who were involved in the China trade, and my father was a very avid sailor who introduced me to the joys of the ocean at the age of three. I quickly came to love exploring our rocky coves, our incredible bays and our inlets, and enjoying the remarkable waters that we are blessed to have in Massachusetts.
But it wasn't until much later that I discovered how really significant the ocean is to life itself on Earth. The ocean fuels our trade. It provides much of the food we eat, the air we breathe. It is home to vast, extraordinary ecosystems from the coral reefs to the kelp forests. But today, this incredible resource is threatened. It's threatened by unsustainable fishing, by pollution, by climate change. Indeed, how we respond to these challenges is literally going to help determine the future of our planet.
That's why I'm pleased to announce that the State Department is going to host the "Our Ocean" Conference in Washington, DC on June 16 and 17. We're going to bring together government officials, scientists, advocates, business people, and the men and women whose livelihoods and well-being depend on the ocean in order to discuss three key issues: sustainable fisheries, marine pollution, and acidification. We will engage the science and we will explore the challenges. And ultimately, we will chart a way forward for a more sustainable, healthy ocean. This conference will build on what we've done already and it will be an important start to a much larger effort, because if we are going to pass on a livable ocean to the next generation, we need to act much more forcefully now.
In the 20th century, the great ocean explorer Jacques Cousteau said that "for most of history, man has had to fight nature to survive; in this century he's beginning to realize that, in order to live, he must protect it."
Now, in a new century, whether we're talking about trade, or climate, or food sustainability, there can be no doubt that the ocean requires our protection and our collective action. So join us at the "Our Ocean" Conference and let's create a healthier ocean, together--because a healthy ocean means a healthy planet.