|In September 2014, President Obama expanded the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument - originally established by President Bush - from 83,234 square miles to 491,161 square miles, making it the largest marine protected area in the world. The Monument boundaries encompass
Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument
pristine coral reefs to the far south and west
of Hawaii: Kingman Reef, Palmyra Atoll, Howland Island, Baker Island, Jarvis Island, Johnston Atoll, and Wake Island. This area sustains a diversity of species including
corals, fish, shellfish, marine mammals, seabirds, land birds, insects, and vegetation found nowhere else in the world. Many threatened, endangered, and depleted
species thrive in the Pacific Remote Islands, including the green and hawksbill turtle,
pearl oyster, giant clams, reef sharks,
coconut crabs, groupers, humphead and Napoleon wrasse, bumphead parrotfish, dolphins and whales wrasse, bumphead parrotfish, dolphins and whales.
The Monument is managed by the
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and NOAA Fisheries. The Presidential proclamation expanding the monument prohibits commercial fishing and any "injury, destruction, or removal of any object." Non-commercial fishing may be allowed by permit. The expanded Monument protects an additional 130+ seamounts, as well as habitat for deep-sea corals.
Recent US FWS management efforts in the Monument include restoring essential seabird nesting habitat by eradicating non-native rats at Palmyra Refuge and one species of rat at Wake, restoring coral reef habitats at Palmyra and Kingman Reef Refuges -including the removal of shipwrecks that were degrading the health of those reefs and facilitating the work of scientists in the Palmyra Atoll Research Consortium with The Nature Conservancy. NOAA's Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center conducts Reef Assessment and Monitoring Cruises to the Monument -- multidisciplinary coral reef ecosystem surveys, assessing the status of fishes, corals, algae, marine invertebrates, and the oceanographic conditions in which these organisms exist.