President Bush, who is not usually known for environmentally friendly policies, now has two major accomplishments in marine conservation under his belt. In 2006, he declared the area around the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands a national monument, prohibiting fishing, oil and gas extraction, and tourism from the surrounding waters. Now, he is breaking his own record by designating 195,274 square miles of Pacific Ocean as a national monument, which means that the government will "immediately phase out commercial fishing and other extractive uses," but recreational fishing, tourism, and scientific research can continue with a federal permit. The protected areas include Palmyra Atoll and Kingman Reef, two of the "most biodiverse marine ecosystems in the world," as well as rare geological formations like a sulfur pool and waters dominated by sharks. Although conservationists urge more protective measures, the sea life that thrives in the new marine monument may eventually replenish surrounding waters as well.
Image: "Kingman Reef" by russmo on Flickr via Creative Commons Licensing.Tweet