The nation’s newest national monument, which will be given a native Hawaiian name based on suggestions from state residents, covers an archipelago stretching 1,400 miles long and 100 miles wide in the Pacific Ocean.
The region is home to more than 7,000 species, at least a fourth of them found nowhere else.
The decision to create the nation’s 75th national monument immediately sets aside 140,000 square miles of largely uninhabited islands, atolls, coral reef colonies and underwater peaks known as seamounts to be managed by federal and state agencies.
Conrad C. Lautenbacher, head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which will manage nearly all of it, said the new protected area would dwarf all others.
“It’s the single-largest act of ocean conservation in history. It’s a large milestone,” Lautenbacher said. “It is a place to maintain biodiversity and to maintain basically the nurseries of the Pacific. It spawns a lot of the life that permeates the middle of the Pacific Ocean.”