President Bush's proposal to create a string
of marine sanctuaries in the Gulf of Mexico, known as the "Islands
in the Stream," has died at least for now after Republican
senators opposed it, a sanctuary official said.
The sanctuaries would have restricted fishing and oil drilling
in nine coral banks and hard-bottom areas in a large loop around
the Gulf from Texas to Florida. Ecologically, the idea dovetails
with research showing that the Gulf marine ecosystem relies on a
ring of deep-water reefs and banks connected by the clockwise
motion of ocean currents extending in a loop from Belize to the
But Billy Causey, southeast regional director for the National
Marine Sanctuary Program, said the proposal has been put on hold.
He said this week that opposition from the senators and fishermen
was too intense and that he received "pressure from the highest
levels of the Department of Interior" to put the proposal on ice.
He declined to provide specifics.
"That doesn't mean it's not a good project," said Causey,
whose sanctuary program is under the National Oceanic and