585,000 Sq. Miles of Newly Protected Ocean to Allow Recreational Fishing

President Obama has dedicated 585,000 square miles of marine environment as national monuments this past month. The newly conserved waters in Hawaii and New England prohibit any commercial activity, but will both allow recreational fishing to continue.

Papahanaumokuakea, Hawaii

President Obama announced the expansion of the Northwest Hawaiian Islands Marine National Monument, known as Papahanaumokuakea on August 26. The new monument boundaries will extend 200 miles off the coast, once again making Papahanaumokuakea the largest protected marine area in the world. Commercial activities that could be harmful to the ecosystem are strictly prohibited, including commercial fishing, oil exploration, or mineral extraction. However, recreational fisherman will be allowed to use and enjoy the new protected area. It was reasoned that recreational fishermen have a very low negative impact on the resource.

Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine

On September 15, 2016, President Obama announced a new marine monument off New England. The protected area will cover 4,913 square miles about 150 miles off the coast of Massachusetts. The Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument was aimed primarily at protecting the fragile coral and sea life along the bottom as well as the biodiversity-rich seamounts and canyons in that area. Recreational fisherman, who have been fishing the area successfully for years, will be allowed to continue. The American Sportfishing Association says “the recreational fishing and boating community advocated that recreational fishing should be allowed to continue because, among other reasons, the type of recreational fishing that occurred in these areas has no interaction with the bottom habitats that are being protected”. The Canyons and surrounding area are a popular spot for billfish, tuna, and mahi mahi. Click here for more info.

The Hawaiian and New England monuments join the protected area around Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument, which was expanded by 6x in 2014. Recreational fishing is also allowed there.

See American Sportfishing Association for more information and to get involved.