President Bush Preserves Vast Stretch of Ocean around Northwestern Hawaiian Islands

WASHINGTON (June 15th, 2006) -- President Bush today announced the creation of the world's largest marine protected area. More than 140,000 square miles of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands will immediately become a safe haven for more than 7,000 species that inhabit the area, including endangered Hawaiian monk seals, green sea turtles, and tiger sharks.

This remarkable step forward provides the United States with an opportunity to lead the world in the protection of ocean life from the harmful effects of habitat destruction, pollution and over fishing -- each of which is destroying marine resources around the globe. More than 75 percent of the world's fisheries are at or beyond the limits of sustainability, and 90 percent of the world's large fish have already disappeared. Yet less than 1 percent or our world's oceans are protected. Studies show that protected areas can act as safe havens and sustain a richer diversity of life, larger, more prolific fish, and increase the productivity of sea life.

"President Bush's action today spotlights ocean health on the world stage," said Frances Beinecke, President of the Natural Resources Defense Council. "The President has put forth an excellent model for protecting marine resources that we hope will be replicated elsewhere in the United States and throughout the world. We now have an opportunity to build on this action by calling for the protection vulnerable marine ecosystems in international waters, and we urge world leaders to follow the President's lead."