Bush Designates World’s Largest MRA in Pacific
U.S. President George W. Bush today designated more than 195,000 square miles of the Pacific Ocean as a marine reserve area (MRA) off limits to commercial fishing — the largest marine conservation area in history.
The three MRAs surround three uninhabited islands in the Northern Mariana Islands, Rose Atoll in American Samoa and seven islands strung along the equator. The areas will be protected as national monuments under the 1906 Antiquities Act.
Recreational fishing will still be allowed, with a federal permit.
Two years ago, Bush set aside an enormous swath of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands as an MRA, which, at the time, was the world’s largest marine conservation area.
Environmentalists lauded the president’s move.
“With the designation of the world’s largest marine reserve in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands in 2006, and now these three other sites, George W. Bush has done more to protect unique areas of the world’s oceans than any other person in history,” Joshua Reichert, managing director of the Pew Environmental Group, told the New York Times.