This Stunning National Monument just Grew Four-Fold
On Friday, President Obama added more than 442,000 square miles to the Pacific Ocean wildlife refuge north of Hawaii. This refuge will be a "no-take" zone, meaning species in and around this area will be environmentally protected.
Obama increased the area by 4 times to 582,578 square miles. It is now an area larger than all the national parks combined. Under the U.S. Antiquities Act, he extended most of the boundary as well as the prohibition of commercial fishing.
Established in 2006 by President George W. Bush, the reserve already covered 140,000 square miles of ocean around the uninhabited northwestern islands of Hawaii.
This makes it the largest sanctuary for ocean life in the world. This is a major initiative that will have lasting benefits for Hawaii's unique ecosystem.
The area is home to 7,000 species of birds, fish, and marine mammals, at least a quarter of which are found only in Hawaii.
It is also the resting place of many shipwrecks from the Battle of Midway in World War II.
The expansion will prohibit all commercial fishing and mineral extraction within the monument. Noncommercial recreational fishing, removal of fish and other resources for native Hawaiian cultural practices, and scientific research will be allowed in the area by permit.