By Susan Roth
Advertiser Washington Bureau
WASHINGTON To federal officials surprise, the Bush administration has allowed the new coral reef reserve in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands to be established.
Late Tuesday, the Federal Register published former President Clintons executive order revising the plan for the 84-million-acre reserve, making it official.
Although federal officials believed that the new administration had suspended all of Clintons last-minute orders and regulations for further review, Frances McDonald, managing editor of the Federal Register, said yesterday that the hold applied only to regulations from federal agencies, not those from the White House.
"Theres been a lot of misinformation about whats being held. It was a little confusing," said Roger B. Griffis, a spokesman with the Commerce Departments National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration, which oversees the reserve.
"But were very pleased that the order has been published and the reserve is in effect as modified by President Clintons last executive order," Griffis said.
As revised by Clinton last week, the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Coral Reef Ecosystem Reserve caps commercial and recreational fishing and prohibits all fishing in parts of the ocean surrounding the chain of atolls and reefs that extends 1,200 miles northwest of the main Hawaiian Islands.
The plan allows Hawaiian subsistence and cultural uses of the area. The revisions allow access to some areas that were closed to all fishing and shut off a few other small areas to all human activity.
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