In a big move for the oceans, President Obama announced today that he’s creating the world’s largest marine protected area. The move expands the Pacific Remote Islands National Marine Monument by more than six times its original size from nearly 87,000 square miles to more than 490,000. The area will protect Johnston Atoll, Wake Atoll, and Jarvis Island, and keep them off-limits to activities such as commercial fishing and energy exploration.
Oceana applauds the announcement, and Oceana vice president for U.S. oceans Jacqueline Savitz released the following statement in a press release following the announcement:
With this announcement, President Obama is turning words into action for ocean conservation, and fulfilling a promise made at the ‘Our Ocean’ conference in June.
The expansion of this marine monument is a clear signal that the Obama administration sees the necessity in protecting our oceans, which cover the other 70 percent of our planet.
This unprecedented protection is an important step to rebuilding fishery abundance in the Pacific Ocean, which will in turn help to feed the world’s growing population.
We hope the Obama administration will also stay true to its commitment to address seafood fraud and illegal fishing in the months ahead.
President Obama first announced his intent to expand this reserve in June at the Our Ocean conference, alongside his commitment to addressing seafood fraud and illegal fishing. Though the actual area is smaller than the 782,000 square miles originally considered, the current site is now more than three times the size of California and significantly builds upon its previous area, first established by George W. Bush during his presidency.