Championing marine conservation, President George W. Bush created the United States' 75th National Monument on June 15, 2006 – and the country's first National Marine Monument – in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. The monument surrounds a 1,400-mile-long, 100-mile-wide archipelago that is home to more than 7,000 marine species, one-fourth of them found nowhere else in the world.
In his announcement of this unique new protected area, the president personally thanked Dr. Sylvia Earle, executive director of Conservation International's Global Marine Division. "Dr. Earle," he said had given him "a pretty good lecture about life," and acknowledged her pivotal role in the development of this Marine National Monument, which will enjoy a higher degree of protection than a National Marine Sanctuary.
Within the monument, resource extraction, dumping, unauthorized passage of ships, and unauthorized recreational and commercial activity is immediately prohibited. All commercial fishing will be banned within five years, making it the largest no-take marine conservation area in the world.
“This is a big deal,” said Bush. “These reefs burst with life… great predators like the white tip reef shark; the spinner dolphins and the Trevally jacks.” The Northwestern Hawaiian Islands are also the primary home for nearly 1,400 surviving Hawaiian monk seals, virtually the entire population of this critically endangered species
. They are also the breeding grounds for approximately 90 percent of the threatened Hawaiian Island green sea turtle population.
For additional photos, to read the president's speech in full, and to view a recorded video of the announcement, visit the White House