US President Obama expands world's largest protected marine area off Hawaii

Aug 29, 2016 10:34 IST

US President Barack Obama on 27 August 2016 expanded Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument off Hawaii, creating the world's largest marine reserve.

MarineNationalMonument

The announcement quadruples in size of the existing monument originally created by President George W Bush in 2006. Now, the existing Marine National Monument will expand by 442781 square miles, bringing the total protected area of the expanded monument to 582578 square miles.

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The White House says the expansion is helping to protect more than 7000 species including whales, sea turtles, pristine coral reefs, deep sea marine habitats, and more. It will also improve the ecological resources in the waters of the Northwest Hawaiian Islands by dealing with ocean acidification and warming.

The expansion will improve ocean resilience, help the region’s distinct physical and biological resources adapt, and create a natural laboratory that will allow scientists to monitor and explore the impacts of climate change on these fragile ecosystems.

The expansion will prohibit all commercial resource extraction activities, including commercial fishing and any future mineral extraction. Noncommercial fishing, such as recreational fishing and the removal of fish and other resources for Native Hawaiian cultural practices, is allowed in the expansion area by permit, as is scientific research.

Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument

The monument was originally created in 2006 by President George W. Bush and designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2010.  Since that time, new scientific exploration and research has revealed new species and deep sea habitats as well as important ecological connections between the existing monument and the adjacent waters.

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