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US President Barack Obama announced to create the world’s biggest MPA in Pacific

Jun 18, 2014 18:32 IST

Barack Obama, the US President, on 17 June 2014 announced the plans of creating the world’s biggest Marine Protected Area (MPA) in the middle of Pacific Ocean. Obama used his executive authority for the creation of the protected area. The area will be finalised after consultations with scientists, fishing and conservation organisatons.

The aim is to further extend the existing zone of protected area of the US known as the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument.

With this fishing and drilling activities for exploitation would be banned from an area that would eventually cover 2 million square kilometers. The extended zone would double the world’s fully protected marine reserves.

Till date, President Obama has used his executive authority 11 times to safeguard the areas on land. But he used his authority for 12th time in context of Ocean after scientists and activists have pressed him to do the same for untouched underwater regions.

Significance

Marine Protected Areas currently make up around 2.8% of the world's oceans but the areas that have a full ban on fishing, drilling and other activities are much smaller, which increases the significance of the US move. Less than 1% of the global ocean is fully protected.

Conserving marine species isn't just the preserve of large nations like the US. In recent days the tiny Republic of Kiribati announced that the Phoenix Islands Protected Area, will close to all commercial fishing by the end of 2014. This fishing zone, which is close to the newly extended US MPA, is within a region that is home to the largest remaining stocks of tuna on Earth.

About the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument

The Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument was created under the authority of the Antiquities Act of 1906 by President George W Bush on 6 January 2009. The monuments extend to 50 nautical miles from the mean low water lines of Howland Baker and Jarvis Islands, Johnston, Wake, and Palmyra Atolls and Kingman Reef.

The area is controlled by the US and consists of seven scattered islands, atolls and reefs that lie between Hawaii and American Samoa.

Essentially uninhabited, the waters that surround these remote islands are home to a wide range of species including corals, seabirds, sharks and vegetation not found anywhere else in the world.

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