Finally, some good news from Hawaii!

June 15th, 2006 11:12 pm by Kelly Garbato

In case you haven’t yet heard:

Bush Plans Vast Protected Sea Area in Hawaii

President Bush will create the world’s largest protected marine area today, designating as a national monument a 1,200-mile-long chain of small Hawaiian islands and surrounding waters and reefs that are home to a spectacular array of sea life, senior administration officials said last night.

In his second use of the 100-year old National Antiquities Act, which empowers the president to protect important cultural or geological resources instantly, Mr. Bush will enact a suite of strict rules for the area, including a five-year phasing out of commercial and sport fishing, officials said.

The chain of largely uninhabited atolls, seamounts, reefs and shoals, which sweeps northwest from the big islands of Hawaii, is called the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands and is home to some 7,000 species of marine life, including endangered green sea turtles and Hawaiian monk seals and millions of breeding seabirds.

Before you vow to vote Republican in ’08, it’s worth noting that this doesn’t necessarily indicate a turning for Bush and his disastrous enviro policies:

Some environmentalists noted yesterday that the extra protection was an easy call for the administration, in part because there was little significant opposition in Hawaii or Washington. The move could also help the re-election prospects of Linda Lingle, Hawaii’s Republican governor, who last fall banned commercial activities in state waters in the area and endorsed the federal sanctuary plan.

They noted that there were only eight commercial fishing boats licensed to fish in the remote islands, and that rising fuel costs had made such trips less and less profitable.

Even so, it’s something to celebrate.

Go read the whole article via The New York Times.

UPDATE: MoJo blogger Bradford Plumer has a spot-on take of this story:

Gotcha. Fishermen don’t really care about this sanctuary, not much harm was being done to the reefs anyway, so Bush may as well go ahead and protect the damn thing, especially since he can now claim that he has “accomplished the single largest act of environmental conservation in history.” Our hero. Well, it’s good news regardless, although there are countless other reefs and coastal regions that still need actual protection. What are the odds of Bush acting on those? No, let’s not answer that.

While I’m certainly not falling for Bush’s green posturing, it’s still good (i.e., in a lukewarm kinda way) news nonetheless – at least one marine area is receiving federal protection, even if it isn’t currently in need of it. Could it be better? Sure. But with Bush at the helm, it could most definitely be worse.

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