Friday, August 26, 2016

Obama Creates World’s Largest Marine Preserve in Hawaii

Yesterday President Obama announced the expansion of the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument in western Hawaii by more than 442,778 miles, quadrupling its size and creating the largest marine preserve on earth. According to, the president will announce the new designation on Wednesday in Hawaii at the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) World Conservation Congress. The idea for the expansion was originally floated over the summer by Senator Brian Schatz of Hawaii, at the urging of a group of influential native Hawaiians.

The move is seen as a boon for conservationists and was championed by many Hawaiians, but it’s not without its detractors. For the most part, Hawaiians seem pleased with Obama’s decision. Under the new regulations traditional fishing and other indigenous practices will be allowed to continue in Papahānaumokuākea with a permit but all commercial fishing will be forbidden. Most significantly, the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, a public body with an elected board that works for the interests of native Hawaiians, will become a co-trustee of the preserve, giving Hawaiians a voice in the management of their land.

While Senator Schatz claims that a large preserve would allow fish stocks to replenish, making fishing viable for future generations, other prominent Hawaiians, among them Hawaii House Speaker Joe Souki, fear that the massive swath of protected ocean would adversely affect the island state’s vital fishing industry, especially fisheries’ ability to bag lucrative bigeye tuna.

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