On June 15, 2006, President Bush announced the designation of the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands (NWHI). At nearly 140,000 square miles in size, the monument was the largest marine protected area in the world at the time of its founding. These islands are home to millions of seabirds, an incredible diversity of coral reef species — including deep-sea corals, and the highly endangered Hawaiian monk seal. About 90% of Hawaii’s green sea turtles nest in the NWHI, as do about 99% of the world’s populations of Laysan albatross and 98 % of the black-footed albatross. The islands are also important to Native Hawaiians for culture, history, and religion.
Marine Conservation Institute was actively engaged in the designation process. Since the designation, we have been working with a variety of national and Hawaii-based organizations to ensure strong, effective, ecosystem based management for the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. Marine Conservation Institute continues to meet numerous state and federal officials to discuss the protection and management of this area, and comment on the management plan and action plans for the monument. A few months prior to the designation, Marine Conservation Institute's President Elliott Norse, and board members Jim Greenwood and Sylvia Earle, had the opportunity to meet with President Bush at a White House dinner following the screening of Jean-Michel Cousteau’s film " Voyage to Kure." This film, along with each person present at this dinner was undoubtedly instrumental in educating the President of the area’s importance.