US plans to create national marine sanctuary off Hawaii

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HONOLULU (AP) – The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is considering additional protections for the waters off the northwestern Hawaiian Islands.

NOAA announced on Friday the proposal to designate the ocean areas of the Papahānaumokuākea National Marine Monument, which is already one of the largest protected natural areas in the world, as a National Marine Sanctuary. The agency opened the plan to public comment until January.

The designation would build on existing protections intended to maintain marine habitats and wildlife. The new rules would only apply to ocean areas, not to islands that are already part of the monument.


“Papahānaumokuākea’s ecosystems are increasingly under pressure from threats such as marine debris, invasive species and climate change,” NOAA administrator Rick Spinrad said in a statement. “The designation of the waters of the monument as a national marine sanctuary would complement the efforts of the four co-administrators to safeguard the natural, cultural and historical values ​​of the monument. “

NOAA, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the State of Hawaii, and the Office of Hawaiian Affairs are currently co-managing the monument.

Papahānaumokuākea is larger than all other US national parks combined and is home to endangered Hawaiian monk seals, green sea turtles, seabirds, and vast coral reef ecosystems. The region is home to many species that cannot be found anywhere else on Earth.


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