World’s Largest Natural Sanctuary Grows Thanks to Obama

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The Obama Administration has just expanded the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument in Hawaii, which makes the sanctuary the largest marine protected area in the world.

The monument, a marine ecosystem of near-pristine reefs and a critical habitat for 14 million seabirds, will now be roughly 490,000 square miles long and is larger than the total of all U.S. national parks on land. Commercial fishing, dumping, and mining will be prohibited in the area.

Papahānaumokuākea had once suffered severe damage because of international shipping activities such as oil spills and accidental discharges. Climate change also poses a threat to the area. Making this move to protect and expand this sanctuary is a positive step toward helping our environment.

“There’s no better time for such a bold move in ocean conservation,” said Sarah Chasis, director of the oceans program at the Natural Resources Defense Council, in a statement. “This act — to build resilience in our oceans, and sustain the diversity and productivity of sea life — could usher in a new century of conservation for our most special, and fragile, ocean areas.”

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