UNITED NATIONS — President Barack Obama is carving out a wide swath of the Pacific Ocean for an expanded marine preserve, putting the waters off-limits to drilling and most fishing in a bid to protect fragile underwater life.
The revamped expanded Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument will cover 490,000 square miles — an area roughly three times the size of California — and will become the largest marine preserve in the world. Millions of seabirds, sea turtles and marine mammals live in the bio-rich expanse included by the new monument, which will also add new protections for more than 130 “seamounts” — underwater mountains where rare or undiscovered species are frequently found.
The move to broaden the George W. Bush-era preserve comes as Obama seeks to show concrete presidential action to protect the environment, despite firm opposition in Congress to new environmental legislation. At the United Nations this week, Obama announced new U.S. commitments to help other nations deal with the effects of climate change, as world leaders seek to galvanize support for a major global climate treaty to be finalized next year in Paris.
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