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Recreational fishing allowed in protected marine area off Hawaii

The expansion extends out to 200 miles, or the limits of the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone, creating the world’s largest marine protected area.

President Obama announced on Friday a vast expansion of the Northwest Hawaiian Islands Marine National Monument, known as Papahanaumokuakea, and will allow recreational fishing to continue in the expanded area.

The expansion extends out to 200 miles, or the limits of the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone, creating the world’s largest marine protected area. All commercial resource extraction activities, including commercial fishing, oil exploration and mineral extraction, are prohibited in the expanded area.

In 2006, President George W. Bush created the monument with a boundary that extended to 50 miles and excluded recreational fishing. Non-commercial fishing, such as recreational fishing and resources for Native Hawaiian cultural practices, are permitted in the expanded area.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Department of the Interior will be responsible for managing the expanded marine monument and have been given three years to put forward implementing regulations.

Obama’s action follows a proposal from U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, Hawaiian state officials and Native Hawaiian leaders.

“We are pleased that the administration recognizes the conservation contributions of sportfishing,” American Sportfishing Association vice president of government affairs Scott Gudes said in a statement.

“The uses allowed to continue, such as boating and recreational fishing, show a true appreciation of the value of outdoor recreation for our nation’s citizens. Outdoor recreation is about appreciating nature and the outdoors as much as it is about jobs and the economy.”

“We greatly appreciate the contributions of Sen. Schatz in this process,” Gudes said. “The expansion boundaries he proposed were adopted in this proclamation.”

“This designation is an important example of how resource conservation and recreational activities, such as sportfishing and boating, can go hand in hand,” said National Marine Manufacturers Association vice president of federal and legal affairs Nicole Vasilaros said. “We applaud the Obama administration and Sen. Schatz for their efforts and continued recognition of the important role of the recreational economy.”

“Recreational fishing and boating are compatible with conservation, and that is brightly highlighted in this designation,” Center for Coastal Conservation president Jeff Angers said. “Sen. Schatz’s leadership ensures that anglers, America’s original conservationists, will be included as management partners.”

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