President Barack Obama on Tuesday announced the expansion of the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument from almost 87,000 square miles to nearly 782,000 square miles.
"Growing up in Hawaii, I learned early to appreciate the beauty and power of the ocean," Obama said at a White House event, reported The New York Times. "And like Presidents Clinton and Bush before me, I'm going to use my authority as president to protect some of our most precious marine landscapes, just like we do for mountains and rivers and forests."
The remote U.S. sanctuary in the central Pacific Ocean will become the world's largest such protected area.
The order, which would come into force later this year after a comment period, would make fishing, energy exploration and other activities off limits in the area, which includes uninhabited islands in a remote region.
The new area is adjacent to islands and atolls controlled by the United States and would include waters up to 200 nautical miles offshore from these territories.
The White House will seek input over the next few months from environmentalists, the fishing industry and government officials before the plan is finalized, reported The New York Times.
Secretary of State John Kerry is hosting an oceans conference at the State Department this week, examining threats to the world's seas from climate change, pollution and illegal fishing.
Photo: Jellyfish at Pearl and Hermes Atoll, Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument. Credit: Greg McFall/NOAA