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President Obama Announces Plan to Create the Largest Marine Protected Area in the World with Help from Marine Conservation Institute

At the State Department’s Our Oceans Conference today, President Obama announced his intention to double the area of global oceans that are fully protected from fishing and other extractive activities. The intent is to conserve a large area of the central Pacific Ocean surrounding U.S. islands, atolls and reefs. The proposal, which the President can authorize using the Antiquities Act under his executive power, would greatly enlarge the existing Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument that includes seven remote and largely uninhabited islands and reefs that President George W. Bush first designated with scientific help from Marine Conservation Institute in 2009. President Obama’s action would vastly expand the existing monument from approximately 87,000 square miles to approximately 782,000 square miles, an increase of almost nine times.

Dr. Lance Morgan, president of Marine Conservation Institute, one of the authors of the report providing scientific basis for the expansion said, “We are pleased that President Obama proposed this bold action today―an action that will reverberate around the world― to expand and highly protect these amazing places that we first started working on in 2007.”

The islands and reefs of the Pacific Remote Marine National Monument contain some of the last relatively pristine marine ecosystems in the Central Pacific Ocean, and are home to countless species of marine wildlife, including dolphins, whales, turtles, seabirds, fish, invertebrates and corals.

Under President Obama’s proposal, the protected zone around Wake, Jarvis, Howland and Baker Islands, Johnston and Palmyra Atolls, and Kingman Reef will be expanded from 50 nautical miles out to the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) at 200 nautical miles. Importantly, this expansion will abut a nearby marine protected zone promised by the country of Kiribati to form one large protected zone to help with overfished tuna populations.

Dr. Morgan continued, “The President’s announcement today and Secretary of State Kerry’s strong commitment to ocean health should wake the world’s leaders up to the need for increasing strongly protected marine conservation areas.”

The world’s oceans contain less than 2% of such places today; and many leading marine scientists have just signed a scientist letter to the President, calling all leaders to increase that to 20% of representative places in the coming decade.

In October 2013, Marine Conservation Institute initiated the Global Ocean Refuge System (GLORES, pronounced glôr-ees), a strategic, science-based way to safeguard marine ecosystems on a global scale. GLORES is designed to catalyze strong protection for at least 20% of the ecosystems in each marine biogeographic region by 2030, enough to avert mass extinction.

Dr. Morgan concluded by saying, “We believe the President’s announcement today would surely qualify for first-class status among ocean reserves around the world, and therefore becoming an early member of our proposed Global Ocean Refuge System.”

About Marine Conservation Institute 
Marine Conservation Institute is a team of highly-experienced marine scientists and environmental-policy advocates dedicated to saving ocean life for us and future generations. The organization’s goal is to help the world create an urgently-needed worldwide system of strongly protected areas—the Global Ocean Refuge System (GLORES)—a strategic, cost-effective way to ensure the future diversity and abundance of marine life. Founded in 1996, Marine Conservation Institute is a U.S.-based nonprofit organization with offices in Seattle, near San Francisco and in Washington DC. For more information, please go to:


For more information, media and bloggers only, please contact:

Lance Morgan, President, Marine Conservation Institute
mobile: 707-217-8242
office: 707-531-7643

Gaby Adam
By the Sea Communications
mobile: 206-931-5942