A Monumental Achievement:
Establishing the Largest Conservation Area in the U.S.
After many years of hard work by NOAA, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the State of Hawaii, Native Hawaiians, and many other partners, the Northwestern Hawaiian islands were at last designated as Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument in 2007. The monument levies the strictest ecosystem-based protections of any marine managed area in the world. Vessel hull inspections, biological quarantine protocols, exclusion of all activities unless allowed by permit (with minimal exceptions), vessel monitoring and notification systems, and banning of all commercial extractive activities are some of the measures put in place to protect unique natural and cultural features.
Papahānaumokuākea initiated a new genre of marine conservation, the establishment of very large remote protected areas, presenting unique opportunities and challenges to ocean management and conservation. With newer and larger marine protected areas being designated across the globe, Papahānaumokuākea, with its sister site, Phoenix Islands Protected Area in Kiribati, recently established Big Ocean: A Network of the World's Largest Marine Managed Areas, an alliance of the managers of the largest protected areas on earth. Other sites include the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park (Australia), Chagos Marine Protected Area (United Kingdom), and the Salas Y Gomez Marine Park (Chile).