At 84 million acres of underwater real estate (larger than the states of Florida and Georgia combined), this is the largest nature preserve in the United States. On December 4, 2000, U.S. President Bill Clinton publicly created this preserve at a meeting of the National Geographic Society to protect the surviving coral reefs surrounding the Hawaiian Islands.
Immediate environmental benefits of the reserve include:
- a ban on all natural gas and oil exploration and mineral production
- a ban on dumping of any material within the reserve
- a tight cap on fishing maximums
- protection for the endangered monk seal and sea turtle native to the area
Naturally, voices of protest exist on both sides at the time the refuge
was created. Members of the Hawaiian fishing industry insist that the new caps may cripple their trade, while some ocean activists
are upset that more wasn't done to protect the area.