Remarks After a Tour of the HMB Endeavour

John Kerry
Secretary of State
Australian National Maritime Museum
Sydney, Australia
August 11, 2014

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, good evening everybody and thank you so much for the privilege of visiting this extraordinary museum, which I know the London Times a number of years ago called the coolest museum in the world. They didn't mean the weather when they said that.

I want to thank you for making me feel absolutely at home here, coming from Boston, where we have a great harbor and the USS Constitution and a number of vessels. I feel very much at home here today and it's wonderful to be in Sydney.

And thank you to all of the students here who are part of -- particularly focused on science, I believe. Am I correct? I want to thank them for coming out here.

I also want to thank Kevin Sumption, the director of the museum, and Peter Dexter, the chairman, and Anthony Longhurst, the acting captain of Endeavour, and tell you what a pleasure it is for me to be able to walk aboard this extraordinary reproduction of the original Endeavour, which lies in the harbor of Newport, Rhode Island, and I gather will be part of an exploration to try to determine whether or not it could be, in fact, raised some point in the future.

The reason I wanted to come down here today, not just to share in the history of this incredible vessel, which was destroyed during the War of Independence in the United States, but before that had just a storied legacy of exploration, a remarkable journey and remarkable captain, who left his mark on history with his charts and the discoveries that he made along the way. And we all owe a debt of gratitude to those who have sailed the oceans before. I particularly feel close to that, because I come from Massachusetts, I have -- I started sailing when I was three years old, I sailed all my life, spent a few years in the Navy, and so I feel particularly close to Sydney and to the appreciation Australians have for the ocean.

The ocean is threatened today as never before. It is threatened by over-pollution, it is threatened by climate change, which is having a profound impact on acidity of the ocean, which has an impact on all of the ecosystem, and it is profoundly affected by overfishing. There is too much money chasing too few fish, and most of the major fisheries of the world are either in extremis or near extremis.

In Washington, the State Department recently hosted a conference which brought people from all over the world to focus on this challenge of the oceans. And President Obama is particularly committed. He has set aside vast expanse of that part of the Pacific Ocean where we have some jurisdiction, and at this conference we set aside some three million square kilometers of area of the Pacific alone for sanctuaries, for ocean, marine sanctuaries. We believe we need to increase that. We also put aside about $800 million to 1.8 billion in order to dedicate it to ocean research, better science, to management of fisheries, to efforts to counter pollution, so that we can preserve the oceans for future generations.

Life itself on Earth depends on our relationship with the ocean. And if it weren't for the oceans and their currents and the ecosystem, life would not exist. So we have a major responsibility. Seventy-five percent of the planet is covered by the ocean. Some people have suggested it could be called Planet Ocean rather than Planet Earth as a result.

So we, as President Kennedy once reminded many of us during an Americas Cup speech that he gave in Newport, Rhode Island, where this vessel now resides underwater, he said that we're all, as human beings, connected to the ocean, and if you measure the amount of salt in the human blood, it tells you the story of our own evolution and of our own connections.

So we hope to continue to focus the attention of nations on our common responsibility to protect the oceans of the world, to reduce the amount of pollution, to protect the fisheries so that they are sustainable, and to be able to guarantee that everybody does their part. Every kid at a beach could pick up a piece of plastic, it's that simple, and not allow it to become the death note for a marine mammal or for birds or others who wind up ingesting it, fish, accidentally.

There are all kinds of ways to be responsible. Our hope is that, in the next few years, there will be a new consciousness created about the responsibility to the ocean and the extraordinary connection of the ocean to everything we do and need to do on Earth itself. So that's why I'm privileged to be here this afternoon at this great museum, and I want to thank you all for taking a moment to come down. And I particularly thank all of you kids for coming here and freezing with us a little bit.

You guys are all part of a science -- there's a science thing going on or a science project or what?

STUDENT: With our school, we've got a solar car program where we, with the help of University of New South Wales in Sydney, we build a solar car, and through that --



SECRETARY KERRY: How many of you are involved with the ocean, doing anything ocean-wise? Anybody here? You're all doing, what, solar? You guys are doing a Lego project, right?

STUDENT: Yeah, we're part of a First Lego League robotics team and we've represented Australia overseas for the past four years.

SECRETARY KERRY: Okay, and have you won prizes?

STUDENT: We have won the equivalent of an Olympic silver medal at each event we have been to.

SECRETARY KERRY: Congratulations. That's huge. How about that? That's fantastic. (Applause.) I really wish you luck.

Does anybody else have anything they sort of want to share with me about your science project or anything you're doing or something I ought to be thinking about paying attention? You all want to go get warm, right? (Laughter.) All right, I don't blame you.

Thank you for coming down. I really appreciate it. Thank you all very much.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary? Could we have a word or two about the political situation in Iraq? A word or two, please, about the political situation in Iraq? Is it time for Maliki to go?

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, it's up to the Iraqi people to decide who their prime minister is going to be. But we stand absolutely squarely behind President Massoum. He has the responsibility for upholding the constitution of Iraq, he is the elected president. And at this moment, Iraq has clearly made a statement that they're looking for change. Among the Shia, it is very, very evident that they have three candidates or so for prime minister, none of whom are Mr. Maliki. So what we urge the people of Iraq to do is to be calm. There should be no use of force, no introduction of troops or militias into this moment of democracy for Iraq. Iraq needs to finish its government formation process and the United States will do everything possible in order to support and uphold the constitution that the new president is, in fact, following appropriately.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

SECRETARY KERRY: We believe that the vast majority of the people of Iraq are united in an effort to be able to have this peaceful transition. We believe that the government formation process is -- is critical, in terms of sustaining the stability and calm in Iraq. And our hope is that Mr. Maliki will not stir those waters.

One thing all Iraqis need to know, that there will be little international support of any kind whatsoever for anything that deviates from the legitimate constitutional process that is in place and being worked on now. They need to finish that and give a new government an opportunity to be voted on, then move forward. Thanks.


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