Obama plans to create world’s largest marine protected area

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A school of manini fish pass over a coral reef at Hanauma Bay on January 15, 2005 in Honolulu, Hawaii. (Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON — The White House says that President Barack Obama will expand a national monument off the coast of Hawaii, creating the world’s largest marine protected area.

Obama’s proclamation on Friday will quadruple in size a monument created by President George W. Bush in 2006. The Papahanaumokuakea (pronounced pah-pah-HAH-now-moh-cuh-ah-cay-ah) Marine National Monument will contain 582,578 square miles, more than twice the size of Texas.

The designation bans commercial fishing and new mining, as is the case within the existing monument. Recreational fishing will be allowed through a permit, as is scientific research. Some fishing groups have voiced concerns about an expansion’s impact on their industry.

The White House is describing the expansion as helping to protect more than 7,000 species and improve the resiliency of an ecosystem dealing with ocean acidification and warming.