When the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument was established in 2006, it was the largest highly protected marine reserve in the world at 140,000 square miles (363,000 square kilometers). Creation of the monument in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands received bipartisan support in the United States and was followed by the designation of more than a dozen large-scale marine parks around the world, nine larger than this initial effort. As a result, nearly 2 percent of the world’s oceans are set aside with strong protections. Although this is important progress, scientists recommend protecting at least 30 percent.
In 2016, a group of native Hawaiians, with the help of Pew’s Global Ocean Legacy project, urged President Barack Obama to expand the monument by 442,000 square miles (1.14 million square kilometers). Obama did just that in August 2016, making Papahānaumokuākea the largest protected area in the world on land or sea. Enlarging the monument brought the world a step closer to reaching global conservation targets and locked in protection of important ecosystems and wildlife in the Pacific Ocean.
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HONOLULU—The Pew Charitable Trusts joins partners in Hawaii and the scientific community in praising today’s announcement by President Barack Obama that the United States has expanded the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Marine National Monument, also known as Papahānaumokuākea, to 582,578 square miles (1.5 million square kilometers). Read More
The expansion of Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, surrounding the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, is one of the largest conservation actions in history. The monument is now the largest protected area in the world—almost four times as large as California—measuring a total of 582,578 square miles. Read More
Papahānaumokuākea means “a sacred area from which all life springs” and is the Hawaiian name for the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Marine National Monument. To Hawaiians, Papahānaumokuākea is a place of honor, believed to be the root of native ancestral connections to the gods, and the site to which spirits return after death. Read More
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Global Ocean Legacy works with local communities, governments and scientists around the world to protect and conserve some of our most important and unspoiled ocean environments.