Big conservation news today, as President Bush uses his executive authority to create a California-size marine reserve in Hawaiian waters. The Northwestern Hawaiian Islands National Monument will carry the highest level of protection and it will surpass the Great Barrier Reef to become the largest marine protected area in the world. It’s unequivocally good news for species- and ecosystem-protection. Much credit is due to the Pew Charitable Trusts and to Jean-Michel Cousteau for their long labors to protect this biological gem.
The new-minted monument is a refuge for sharks, sea turtles, monk seals, nesting seabirds, and countless fish species. It’s truly a jewel in the crown of American national parks. Bush deserves praise for this.
And yet I cavil. At least about this line from the Washington Post‘s coverage: “Establishing the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands as a strictly protected marine reserve, which Bush is slated to announce this afternoon, could prove to be the administration’s most enduring environmental legacy.” [Empahsis mine.]