The US president has officially signed a memorandum to expand a marine reserve in the Pacific Ocean, banning all kinds of commercial-scale activities such as fishing and mining, in order to create the largest network of protected oceanic space in the world.
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Obama announced plans to expand the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument in June, adding 782,000 square miles to the already existent 77,020 square miles, which hosts a unique ecosystem.
The memorandum bans commercial fishing, deep-sea mining and extraction activities of underwater resources.
US Secretary of State John Kerry said, “This really is a matter of stewardship. It’s also a matter of generational responsibility.
“We have a responsibility to make sure the future has the same ocean to serve it. Not to be abused, but to preserve and utilise.”
The reserve – lying between the Hawaiian islands and Samoa – was initially set up by the Bush administration; under Obama’s plan, it will become the largest of its kind in the world.
Commenting on the announcement Frances Beinecke, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council, said, “This is a far-sighted action that will preserve for future generations a critically important reserve that can help reverse the decline of the marine environment. The president acted expeditiously, while the area is still largely pristine and undisturbed. The abundance of sea life there – rare species of whales, 5,000-year-old corals, hundreds of sea mounts brimming with life – is incomparable.
“This demonstrates the bipartisan support for protecting the area and should encourage other nations to protect their own valuable marine environments.”
Photo: Heather Paul via Flickr