With the stroke of a pen on a proclamation backed by the authority of the 110-year-old Antiquities Act, President Barack Obama on August 26 created the world’s largest marine reserve off the coast of Hawaii’s northwestern islands.
The process leading to the controversial designation drew pods of politicians, colonies of conservationists and preservationists, schools of commercial fishermen, a siege of lobbyists, and runs of followers on both sides into a territorial showdown. It was hailed as a United States ocean policy triumph, but Hawaii’s commercial fishermen – the longline tuna fishery in particular – lost a sizeable chunk of their traditional fishing grounds.
“This is a hallowed site and it deserves to be treated that way from now on,” Obama said in announcing the expansion of the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. “It will be preserved for future generations.”