Today, President Obama announced plans to create the world’s largest marine protected area.

The proposal would expand the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument (PRIMNM), an already protected area in the Pacific Ocean, to almost nine times its current size.

The Monument, which currently spans almost 87,000 square miles, was designated a marine national monument by President George W. Bush in 2009. It covers a series of small, uninhabited islands and coral reef atolls, and is home to more than 20 species of protected marine mammals, five types of threatened sea turtles, and countless other shark and fish species.

Obama’s proposal to expand PRIMNM to roughly 782,000 square miles would not only quintuple the number of underwater mountains under protection, but would also prohibit commercial and private fishing, as well as industrial exploration activities such as drilling or seismic testing. This proposal would be the biggest stride our country has ever made to protect our ocean. We applaud President Obama for his unprecedented effort to address the growing concern over the health of our ocean.

Like every president before him since the days of Teddy Roosevelt, President Obama plans to use the 1906 Antiquities Act to make this marvelous designation. President Bush used the Antiquities Act to originally designate PRIMNM, albeit with a smaller range.

The good news is that proposed expansion has a fair chance of passing muster, primarily since the area under consideration encompasses uninhabited islands in a remote region with sparse economic activity. The main opposition to the designation is expected to come from the U.S. tuna fleet that operates in the region.

According to Pew Environment Group, fish caught in the area account for up to 3 percent of the annual U.S. tuna catch in the western and central Pacific. When President Bush created PRIMNM, he exempted sport fishing to address industry opposition, but under President Obama’s designation commercial fishing would also be limited.

The proposal to expand PRIMNM is slated to go into effect later this year after a public comment period over the summer. Its fate depends largely on the feedback the President receives from the public.

Here at IFAW we will be enthusiastically supporting this measure, and will be calling upon all of our fabulous supporters to do the same. So stay tuned and be prepared to be a part of a momentous movement to protect our oceans.

Congratulations, President Obama.

Today, IFAW awards you the blue ribbon for championing this blue environment initiative!


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Article source: IFAW

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