U.S. Creates Largest Marine Protected Area

ENVIRONMENT

The United States has announced that it will create the largest marine reserve in the world by expanding an existing monument around U.S.-controlled islands and atolls in the central Pacific. (National Geographic)

Use our resources to learn more about marine protected areas and how they are managed. (And scroll down for some beautiful photos!)

Today’s current-event connection was written by Nat Geo Education’s once-and-future ocean authority, Julie Brown.

The Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument is just one—the biggest one!—of the marine reserves protected by the U.S. in the South Pacific. The Marianas Trench, Papahanaumokuakea, and Rose Atoll are also part of the Marine National Monument Program, implemented by President Barack Obama in 2009. Map by NOAA

The Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument is just one—the biggest one!—of the marine reserves protected by the U.S. in the South Pacific. The Marianas Trench, Papahanaumokuakea, and Rose Atoll are also part of the Marine National Monument Program, implemented by President Barack Obama in 2009.
Map by NOAA

Discussion Ideas

  • Read through the National Geographic News article outlining the expansion of the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument. The monument has strict rules, including prohibitions on fishing, dumping, and mining. In most marine protected areas (MPAs), these laws are administered by law-enforcement officers on boats. Why do you think fishing bans are going to be a challenge to enforce in the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument?
    • The reserve is simply too big to monitor all the time. An area nearly three times the size of California is cost-prohibitive, impractical, and ineffective for boat patrols.
  • According to the Nat Geo News article, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is actively pursuing ratification of the Port State Measures Agreement. How would this international treaty help protect the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument and other MPAs around the world?
    • The Port State Measures Agreement would require member nations to prevent illegally caught fish from entering the market. Fish brought to market by poacher would be unsellable, causing substantial loss of revenue for poachers and therefore creating a major financial deterrent for fishing in reserves.
    • In simple terms: No market, no sale, no money—poachers won’t make the same mistake twice!
Palmyra Atoll is one area protected by the expanded Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument. Photograph by Erik Oberg/Island Conservation, courtesy U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

Palmyra Atoll is one area protected by the expanded Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument.
Photograph by Erik Oberg/Island Conservation, courtesy U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

Green sea turtles are native to the expanded national monument. Photograph by Kydd Pollock, courtesy U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

Green sea turtles are native to the expanded national monument.
Photograph by Kydd Pollock, courtesy U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

Coral gardens are found around the islands of the monument. Photograph by Kydd Pollock, courtesy U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

Coral gardens are found around the islands of the monument.
Photograph by Kydd Pollock, courtesy U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

Corals provide a rich, biodiverse habitat for fish, crustaceans, and other marine creatures. Photograph by Jim Maragos, courtesy U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

Corals provide a rich, biodiverse habitat for fish, crustaceans, and other marine creatures.
Photograph by Jim Maragos, courtesy U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

Marine sanctuaries protect terrestrial creatures, such as this inquisitive red-footed booby, too. Limits on fishing protects the booby's primary food source. Photograph by Laura M. Beauregard, courtesy U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

Marine sanctuaries protect terrestrial creatures, such as this inquisitive red-footed booby, too. Limits on fishing protects the booby’s primary food source.
Photograph by Laura M. Beauregard, courtesy U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

The Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument is home to a colorful variety of giant clams. Photograph by Amanda Pollock, courtesy U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

The Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument is home to a colorful variety of giant clams.
Photograph by Amanda Pollock, courtesy U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

Howland Island, another area protected by the new marine reserve, is home to some of the most conservation-minded crustaceans—hermit crabs that reuse and recycle snail shells as mobile homes. Photograph by C. Eggleston, courtesy U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

Howland Island, another area protected by the new marine reserve, is home to some of the most conservation-minded crustaceans—hermit crabs that reuse and recycle snail shells as mobile homes.
Photograph by C. Eggleston, courtesy U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

Blacktip sharks, like these cruising in Kingman Reef, are among the reserve's most visible apex predators. Photograph by Kydd Pollock, courtesy U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

Blacktip sharks, like these cruising in Kingman Reef, are among the reserve’s most visible apex predators.
Photograph by Kydd Pollock, courtesy U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

3 responses to “U.S. Creates Largest Marine Protected Area

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