Protecting the Pacific!
The United States just proudly made ocean conservation history by creating the largest marine protected area. Yesterday, President Obama expanded the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument from almost 87,000 square miles to more than 490,000 square miles, making it nearly twice the size of Texas.
The marine monument is made up of five different regions of the Pacific Ocean, that surround U.S. territories.Three of the regions were expanded, protecting all 200 miles of the United States’ exclusive economic zone surrounding Johnston Atoll, Wake Atoll and Jarvis Island. This area of the Pacific is renowned for its remoteness and amazing diversity of underwater life. The region has an abundant amount of healthy coral reefs, sea turtles, whales, manta rays, sharks and sea birds! The protection of this region will help foster marine life within and outside the borders of the reserve!
What does this mean for boaters?
Most of the protections apply to commercial fishing and other resource-extraction activities, like deep-water mining. However, If you have been planning a trip to this remote region of the Pacific that hugs the equator, then it is worth noting that this proclamation expands regulations that have already been in place since 2009. Boaters are welcome to visit the region, however most of these islands are un-inhabited and require special permit to land on them and are generally restricted to wildlife-related research. Additionally recreational fishing will be allowed with permits. The marine monument includes 33 seamounts and it is estimated that up to 44% of the species in the region are found nowhere else on Earth! Protecting this amazing region will be greatly beneficial for future generations.
- To learn more about the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument, click here.
- Also check out our past Ocean Watch article written by the Marine Conservation Institute: What is a Marine Protected Area, Anyway?
- Watch the video below from National Geographic for a quick look into the amazing marine life in this region.