Today, President Barack Obama announced the expansion of the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument (PMNM) by more than 442,000 square miles. U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i), who formally proposed the PMNM expansion in a letter to the president in June, applauded the decision. This action will create the world’s largest marine protected area by putting some of the world’s most important ocean ecosystems under conservation.
“This is one of the most important actions an American president has ever taken for the health of the oceans,” said Senator Schatz. “Expanding Papahanaumokuakea will replenish stocks of ‘ahi, promote biodiversity, fight climate change, and give a greater voice to Native Hawaiians in managing this resource. President Obama’s declaration is only the beginning. To create continued success, we will need to follow through with management, research, educational opportunities, and enforcement. This declaration sets us on a strong path forward for our irreplaceable environment and the generations to come.”
At 582,578 square miles, the declaration creates the world’s largest marine protected area by expanding the PMNM west of 163° West Longitude out to the full 200 nautical miles of the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone, while preserving access for local fishermen on Kaua‘i and Ni‘ihau by maintaining the current boundaries of the PMNM east of 163° West Longitude. President Obama will also grant Schatz’s request to make the Office of Hawaiian Affairs a Co-Trustee of the PMNM.