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President Bush Declares National Monument in Hawaii

President Bush on Thursday announced the designation of a vast chain of Northwestern Hawaiian islands as a national monument, now the largest marine sancutary in the world. Ocean explorer Jean-Michel Cousteau and Joshua Reichert of the Pew Charitable Trusts discuss what the new designation will mean.

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    It's a spectacular piece of this country, remote, uninhabited by humans, but home to thousands of species of marine life. The endangered monk seal lives here, as do rare birds, and colorful fish stay close to the largest coral reef system in the United States.

    These are the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, a chain of atolls, reefs and shoals stretching more than 1,200 miles. Today's move by the president to make the area a national monument will end commercial fishing there and afford it other environmental protections.

    GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States: The vibrant beauty of the oceans is a blessing to our country, and it's a blessing to the world.


    The new marine reserve is 140,000 square miles, about the size of Montana, and will now be the world's largest protected marine area. The president moved quickly to give the islands national monument status after he and Mrs. Bush were given a White House screening of this documentary, made by Jean-Michel Cousteau. The film aired on PBS in April.


    Look at this! Look at this!


    The designation drew praise from environmentalists, who've often been at odds with the Bush administration. Some opposition to the plan had come from fishing interests, but a coalition of environmental groups is planning to offer some financial relief to those who would lose their fishing permits.