President Barack Obama recently announced an expansion of the Northwest Hawaiian Islands Marine National Monument, known as Papahanaumokuakea. The monument will extend to 200 miles or the limits of the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone, creating the world’s largest marine protected area. In 2006, President George W. Bush created the monument with a boundary which extended to 50 miles and excluded recreational fishing, according to the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA).
The new proclamation moves to conserve the physical and living marine resources within the monument’s waters. All commercial resource extraction activities including commercial fishing, oil exploration and mineral extraction are prohibited in the expanded areas.
Non-commercial fishing, such as recreational fishing and resources for Native Hawaiian cultural practices, are permitted in the expanded area. The National Atmospheric and Oceanic Administration (NOAA) and the Department of the Interior will be responsible for managing the expanded marine monument and have been given three years to put forward implementing regulations. The action follows a proposal put forward by Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Hawaiian state officials and Native Hawaiian leaders.
NMMA worked with the American Sportfishing Association and Center for Coastal Conservation to impress upon the Administration the need for continued recreational access for any marine monument designation.
“This designation is an important example of how resource conservation and recreational activities, such as sportfishing and boating, can go hand in hand,” noted Nicole Vasilaros, NMMA vice-president. “We applaud the Obama Administration and Sen. Schatz for their efforts and continued recognition of the important role of the recreational economy.”
“We are pleased that the administration recognizes the conservation contributions of sportfishing” said Scott Gudes, vice president of government affairs for the American Sportfishing Association (ASA). “The uses allowed to continue, such as boating and recreational fishing, show a true appreciation of the value of outdoor recreation for our nation’s citizens. Outdoor recreation is about appreciating nature and the outdoors, as much as it is about jobs and the economy.”
Gudes continued, “We greatly appreciate the contributions of Sen. Schatz in this process. The expansion boundaries he proposed were adopted in this proclamation.”
“Recreational fishing and boating are compatible with conservation, and that is brightly highlighted in this designation,” said Center for Coastal Conservation (CCC) President Jeff Angers. “Sen. Schatz’s leadership ensures that anglers, America’s original conservationists, will be included as management partners.”