A breath taking photograph of one of the islands in the marine sanctuary courtesy of the US Fish and Wildlife Service. I applaud both President Bush and President Obama for securing this fragile ecosystem.
Several weeks before he left office in January of 2009, President George W. Bush created the Pacific Remote Islands National Marine Monument. This protected 87,000 square miles of marine reserves around islands the US accumulated over time.
I noticed in reading the original article in the archives of the Washington Post from 2009 that President Bush was scathingly denounced by a group called the American Sportfishing Association. You will no doubt be shocked to learn, as I was, that this is the industry association of companies who supply goods and services to the sport fishing industry.
These islands are so far away from anywhere that it takes days at sea to even reach most of them. None of the islands are inhabited and the entire area is administered by the US Fish and Wildlife service.
In late September of 2014, President Obama used the authority granted to Presidents under the Antiquities Act of 1906 (the same authority used by President Bush) to broaden the Pacific Remote Islands National Marine Monument from almost 87,000 square miles to more than 490,000 square miles.
Given the partisan atmosphere in Washington, DC this action by President Obama, who is simply building on a legacy started by President George Bush, was denounced by Obama’s opponents as stretching his authority under the Antiquities Act.
There are so few unspoiled places left in the world that I believe people across the political spectrum will actually think the original action by President Bush, broadened by President Obama, is a very good thing. At least I hope so.