President Barack Obama is set to announce Tuesday that he will use his executive power to double the global area of ocean set aside as a marine sanctuary by protecting a large swath of the central Pacific, The Guardian reports.
The proposal, which would go into effect after a comment period, would create the largest marine sanctuary in the world. The area would be off-limits to fishing, drilling and a host of other activities. Obama’s move is set to be part of the international Our Oceans conference hosted by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.
Humans, Kerry said at the conference, have caused “enormous damage” to the ocean, and “governments, individuals and communities can act now to reverse these trends. We can protect the ocean if we all start treating it like our ocean.”
The president of Kiribati, Anote Tong, announced at the conference that the Pacific Island state would close an area roughly the size of California to commercial fishing by the end of this year, to allow fish stocks to recover. Estimates say the remote island nation, located 3,800 miles northeast of Australia, will be nearly completely underwater by 2100 due to rising seas.
The fishing ban would cover the entire Phoenix Islands Protected Area, which represents about 11 percent of Kiribati’s waters and is currently heavily fished.
Obama to Use Executive Action to Make U.S. Marine Sanctuary Ten Times Larger