Pres. Clinton announced the creation yesterday of the largest protected area in the U.S., 84 million underwater acres off of Hawaii. The new reserve extends 1,200 miles northwest of the main Hawaiian islands, encompassing atolls and islands and 70 percent of the nation’s coral reefs. Clinton’s order designates 4 million acres of the reserve for especially strict levels of protection, prohibiting all fishing, anchoring, and even touching of coral reef in areas that include the habitat of the endangered monk seal. Oil and gas drilling will be prohibited throughout the entire reserve. Some members of the Hawaiian fishing industry opposed Clinton’s move, which capped fishing at recent or current levels. Enviros were generally happy about the plan, though some wanted all fishing banned throughout the reserve.

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