With the expected announcement, Obama will look to double the area of protected ocean in the world and make the area off-limits to energy exploration, fishing and other activities deemed harmful to the marine ecosystem.
After a comment period, the proposal should go into effect later this year. Obama has recently made the environment a priority in his last years in office much to the chagrin of Republican opponents of the President.
Republican criticism against Obama
Despite the fact that former President George W. Bush was responsible for creating the sanctuary that Obama wishes to broaden to, somewhat ironically, an area about the size of Texas, the President will see no small amount of criticism from the other side.
“It’s another example of this imperial presidency,” House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings told the Post.
During the comment period, it’s expected that the president will also instruct a number of federal agencies to develop programs aimed at fighting rising seafood fraud and ways to curtail the black-market fish trade. Last week, the administration made a policy change that will allow the public to nominate areas in the Great Lakes and off the U.S. coasts for additional protection.
Bush as ocean’s champion?
While Obama has used executive authority on 11 occasions to protect areas on land, he has received criticism by both scientists and activists to safeguard marine environments as Bush did on four separate occasions.
If the proposal is followed up on, the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument would be expanded from almost 87,000 square miles to nearly 782,000 square miles — all of it adjacent to seven islands and atolls controlled by the United States.
Fish caught in the area of the proposed expansion represent 3% of the U.S tuna catch and commercial fisherman will certainly be expected to comment and comment loudly this summer. They will join the cattle ranchers and ATV enthusiasts that fought the president in his protection of federal lands.