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Obama Plans Huge Protected Marine Area 08/26 06:23

   The White House says that President Barack Obama will expand a national 
monument off the coast of Hawaii, creating the world's largest marine protected 
area.

   WASHINGTON (AP) -- The White House says that President Barack Obama will 
expand a national monument off the coast of Hawaii, creating the world's 
largest marine protected area.

   Obama's proclamation will quadruple in size a monument originally created by 
President George W. Bush in 2006. The Papahanaumokuakea Marine National 
Monument will contain some 582,578 square miles, more than twice the size of 
Texas.

   Obama will travel to the monument next week to mark the designation and cite 
the need to protect public lands and waters from climate change.

   The designation bans commercial fishing and any new mining, as is the case 
within the existing monument. Recreational fishing will be allowed through a 
permit, as will be scientific research and the removal of fish and other 
resources for Native Hawaiian cultural practices. Some fishing groups have 
voiced concerns about what an expansion of the marine national monument would 
mean for their industry.

   Sean Martin, the president of the Hawaii Longline Association, said he was 
"disappointed" by Hawaii Gov. David Ige's decision to support expanding the 
monument. He said the monument's expansion would be based on political and not 
scientific reasons.

   Hawaii's longline fishing fleet supplies a large portion of the fresh tuna 
and other fish consumed in Hawaii. Martin has previously estimated the fleet 
catches about 2 million pounds of fish annually from the proposed expansion 
area.

   The White House is describing the expansion as helping to protect more than 
7,000 species and improving the resiliency of an ecosystem dealing with ocean 
acidification and warming. A fact sheet previewing the announcement states that 
the expanded area is considered a sacred place for Native Hawaiians.

   Shipwrecks and downed aircraft from the Battle of Midway in World War II dot 
the expansion area. The battle marked a major shift in the war. Obama will 
travel to the Midway Atoll to discuss the expansion.

   With the announcement, Obama will have created or expanded 26 national 
monuments. The administration said Obama has protected more acreage through 
national monument designations than any other president.

   The White House said the expansion is a response to a proposal from 
Democratic Sen. Brian Schatz and prominent Native Hawaiian leaders. The federal 
government will also give Hawaii's Department of Natural Resources and Office 
of Hawaiian Affairs a greater role in managing the monument, an arrangement 
requested by Schatz and Gov. David Ige.


(KA)

 
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