According to the newspaper Honolulu Star-Adviser President Barack Obama will expand the 2006 established Papahanaukuakea Marine National Monument in the Northwestern waters of Hawai’i to become the world’s largest marine reserve. It will permanently protecting coral reefs and deep-sea marine habitat from activities such as commercial fishing and mineral mining, the White Hose announced August 25. This decision Obama will address September 1st at the opening of the World Conservation Congress in Honolulu.
Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument was already so far the largest contiguous fully protected conservation area under the U.S. flag, and one of the largest marine conservation areas in the world. It encompasses 139,797 square miles of the Pacific Ocean (362,073 square kilometers) – an area larger than all the country’s national parks combined. In 2010 the area was also declared by UNESCO as World Heritage Site. Now it is decided to quadruple the size of the marine protected area to 582,578 square miles (1 508 872 km2).
Further text taken from the Honolulu Star-Adviser from August 26, 2016:
Obama will then travel Thursday to Midway Atoll, located within Papahanaumokuakea, to mark the significance of the monument expansion and „highlight first-hand how the threat of climate change makes protecting our public lands and waters more important than ever,“ according to a White House press release.
„It is fair to say that the president has as strong as an environmental legacy and track record as any president in generations,“ U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz, who was singled out by the Obama administration as playing a crucial role in the president’s decision, told the Honolulu Star-Adviser.
Obama’s decision follows months of debate in Hawaii between the longline fishing industry, which has opposed the expansion, and the plan’s supporters – a long list of local law makers, hundrets of scientists and environmental organisations including the Pew Charitable Trust.
LT&C had earlier encouraged its members and readers to join a campaign for pushing Obama to make this decision. We will now find out during the World Conservation Congress, how much tourism played a positive role or will be important in the future for the development of the world’s largest marine protected area.