The expansion turned the PRIMNM area from 83,000 to 490,000 square miles. Image: National Geographic
Original post by Andy French, The Intertia, “U.S. Creates World’s Largest Protected Marine Area”
The President used his pen to create the largest fully protected marine preserve in the world and made the US a global leader in ocean protection. By expanding an existing Marine Monument in the South Pacific, President Obama set aside an area larger than Texas and California combined. The U.S. now has over 10% of our ocean resources permanently protected – the expansion makes the Marine Monument, which used to be 83,000 square miles, into 490,000 square miles, nearly three times the size of California, and six times larger than its previous size. While recreational fishing will be allowed, commercial fishing, dumping, an mining will be prohibited.
Although the tiny remote islands that make up this massive protected ocean space don’t top the charts for surfing destinations, they play a key role in showing the world our commitment to furthering ocean protection across the globe. Oceans across the world are already seeing the devastating impacts of climate change, from warming temperatures and rising seas to an increase of carbon dioxide making the waters more acidic, and the surfing community has a clear role to ensure that we can protect the waters we love and enjoy for future generations. “We’re committed to protecting more of the world’s ocean,” Secretary of State John Kerry said to National Geographic. ”Today, one to three percent of the ocean is protected, that’s it. That’s why President Obama will sign a proclamation today that will create one of the largest maritime protected areas in the world. It will be protected in perpetuity.”
In addition to protecting potential prime surf spots, the newly expanded Pacific Remote Island Marine National Monument will provide a permanent and safe refuge for countless fish, birds, corals, whales, and other marine wildlife. The same coral reefs that make some of the South Pacific surfing destinations like Fiji and Teahupo’o what they are, are at increased risk as the oceans continue to warm and become more acidic. In fact, it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to say that if we continue to see a rapid decline in living corals, we might see a decrease of quality in some of the more destination reef breaks around the globe.
The move today by our President sets a precedent for other global leaders to commit their ocean resources for permanent protection – that’s a real win for surfers and surfing destinations across the globe. Imagine if we were able to fully protect 20% of the world’s ocean from commercial fishing and resource exploitation. Simply put, that would mean more pristine surfing spots around the globe.
What are marine reserves? From Grist.org