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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted at 9:28 a.m., Thursday, June 15, 2006

Bush establishes Northwestern Islands monument

 •  PDF: White House press release
 •  PDF: Gov. Lingle's press release

Advertiser Staff

President George Bush this morning, with Gov. Linda Lingle and other Hawai'i officials standing by, signed documents establishing a national monument in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands.

It would be the largest marine reserve in the nation, and the largest marine protected area in the world in which no fishing or other taking of marine life is permitted.

"Having visited the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands with Jean-Michel Cousteau, I can attest that this is a special place worthy of the highest levels of protection," Lingle said. She was accompanied by Peter Young, director of the state Department of Land and Natural Resources, and Sen. Fred Hemmings, R-25th (Kailua-Hawai'i Kai).

Lingle herself established a no-fishing preserve in state waters in the region last year, and said the state will work closely with the federal government to ensure the joint management of the adjacent areas.

"This seamless partnership between the state and federal government, environmental conservationists, and Native Hawaiian organizations will preserve this special chain of atolls and reefs as a natural and cultural legacy. Together, we are proud to continue our commitment to preserve Hawai'i's natural resources for future generations."

U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie added his support to the designation.

"Today's Northwestern Hawaiian Islands National Monument designation is a huge victory for those of us who have been fighting for more than a decade to protect this unique ecosystem. It is part and parcel of our efforts to protect Hawai'i's unique marine ecosystems, notably including the establishment of the Humpback Whale Marine Sanctuary," he said.

"I will be looking at legislative options to strengthen protection for the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, assuring their permanency and guaranteeing a funding stream for the agencies responsible for enforcement and protection. One option is to overlay the National Monument designation with an additional layer of protective status.

"It's important that we not sit back and think this is the end of the story. There's still a lot of work to be done before the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands have protection fully in place. I remain committed to building on today's progress until we achieve that goal," Abercrombie said.