Last week, President Obama designated the world’s largest marine reserve in the Pacific Islands. The reserve will cover 470,000 square miles of ocean around the islands. The area is a major expansion of the existing Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument. This action will increase the existing monument to six times its current size.
The area will be off-limits to both commercial fishing and other resource extraction activities, including deep sea mining. According to the White House press release, expanding this monument will more “fully protect the deep coral reefs, seamounts, and marine ecosystems unique to this part of the world, which are also among the most vulnerable areas to the impacts of climate change and ocean acidification”.
The proclamation, announced by Secretary of State John Kerry, means that Obama has protected more acres of federal land and sea by executive power than any other president in the last 50 years.
“We have a responsibility to make sure our kids and their families and the future has the same ocean to serve it in the same way as we have — not to be abused, but to preserve and utilize,” Kerry said at the session. “And we’re talking about an area of ocean that’s nearly twice the size of Texas, and that will be protected in perpetuity from commercial fishing and other resource-extraction activities, like deep-water mining.”
The expanded monument will protect over 130 additional sea mounts, basically underwater mountains, which are hotspots for biodiversity and home to ancient corals, manta rays, sharks, sea turtles, and countless other marine animals. Additionally, the area is home of millions of seabirds that forage over the water. Protecting this area will help to sustain numerous ecosystems.
To learn more about this latest action, click here.