08/25/2008 - Vast swaths of U.S. Pacific Ocean waters could be protected as marine sanctuaries or monuments, the White House said on Monday, drawing praise from environmental groups.
President George W. Bush started the process by directing the U.S. secretaries of the Interior, Defense and Commerce departments to assess whether certain locations in the Pacific should be designated as marine protected areas, White House spokesman Tony Fratto said.
The areas being considered for protection in the new plan are a group of islands and atolls in the remote central Pacific, including the Rose Atoll near American Samoa, and some of the waters around the Northern Mariana Islands in the western Pacific.
Joshua Reichert of the Pew Environment Group called the announcement "a hopeful sign for ocean conservation" but said designation as a marine sanctuary or monument could still permit commercial fishing and deep sea mining.
"However, if the president establishes these new sites as no-take reserves, where no extractive activity is allowed, it would be one of the most significant environmental achievements of any U.S. president," Reichert said in a statement.
Read the full article U.S. Considers Protecting Vast Swaths of Pacific on Reuters' Web site.