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Largest Marine Reserve Created

Largest Marine Reserve Created

Author: Hugh Bollinger/Friday, August 26, 2016/Categories: natural history, wildlife conservation, marine life, sustainability, environment

                            Papahānaumokuākea National Monument Map (credit: NOAA)

With the stroke of his pen today, President Obama has created the world's largest marine reserve. His action will expand the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument off of Hawaii and demonstrate the US leadership in global marine conservation. The new designation will more than quadruple the size of the existing monument, permanently protecting coral reefs, deep-sea habitats, and important ecological resources off the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands.

The original monument was created in 2006 by President George W. Bush and designated as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2010. Since then, research and exploration has discovered new species and habitats as well as important ecological connections between the monument and adjacent waters. President Obama's designation will expand the Papahānaumokuākea marine reserve by 442,781 square miles, bringing the total protected area to 582,578 square miles.

The expanded designation off Hawaii is one of the largest conservation actions in history. It also shows the growing recognition that ecological boundaries are critical in maintaining biological resources for long-term sustainabilty. It will be interesting to learn if other landscape-scale preservation actions will follow.



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