The United States has recently shown bold environmental leadership by designating vast tracts of territory in the Pacific Ocean as protected habitats.
President George Bush set aside 3 huge areas as new marine national monuments, and in doing so created the world’s largest marine protected reserve system, conserving reefs, atolls and underwater formations that are home to a stunningly diverse array of unique species.
The first area is the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument. It encompasses the deepest point on Earth and the surrounding arc of undersea volcanoes and thermal vents. This unique geological region supports life in some of the harshest conditions imaginable and is the only known location of liquid sulfur this side of Jupiter. By studying these pristine waters, scientists can advance our understanding of tropical marine ecosystems.
The second new monument is the Pacific Remote Islands. It spans 7 areas to the far south and west of Hawaii. One is Wake Island -- the site of a pivotal battle in World War II and a key habitat for nesting seabirds and migratory shorebirds. The region includes some of the most pristine and spectacular coral reefs in the world.
The Rose Atoll Marine National Monument is the third area to be set aside for its scientific significance. Rose is a diamond-shaped island to the east of American Samoa and is home to colonies of rare sea birds.
Taken together, these 3 new national monuments cover nearly 200,000 square miles of federally protected land and sea. These steps among others, said President Bush, "are the capstone of an 8-year commitment to strong environmental protection and conservation."
"With all these steps," said President Bush, "we have charted the way toward a more promising era in environmental stewardship."