(Click to enlarge) The Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument in Hawaii has been extended from the yellow line to the white line for the western islands, quadrupling its size (Credit: NOAA)
Capping a week of 100th anniversary celebrations for the National Park Service, President Barack Obama on Friday turned to the ocean to create the largest protected area anywhere on Earth—a half-million-square-mile arc of remote Pacific waters known for both exceptional marine life and importance to native Hawaiian culture. The Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, established in 2006 by President George W. Bush, already covered 140,000 square miles of ocean around the uninhabited northwestern islands of Hawaii, Obama’s home state.
(From National Geographic / by Cynthia Barnett)– Obama more than quadrupled Papahānaumokuākea’s size, to 582,578 square miles, an area larger than all the national parks combined. Using his executive authority under the U.S. Antiquities Act, he extended most of the monument’s boundary—and its prohibition of commercial fishing—out to the 200-mile limit of the exclusive economic zone (EEZ). Hawaii governor David Ige remarked on the “tremendous” debate within Hawaii over the monument and its fishing exclusion. But in the end, he said, the expansion “strikes the right balance at this time for the waters surrounding the Hawaiian Islands, and it can be a model for sustainability in the other oceans of planet Earth.”
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