US vows 'huge' marine protection (BBC News)

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US vows 'huge' marine protection

By Richard Black
Environment correspondent, BBC News website

Rose Atoll - "the highest proportion of live coral cover anywhere in the world"

The US is to establish what it calls "the largest area of protected sea in the world" around its Pacific islands.

Commercial fishing and mining will be banned in the protected zones which include the Marianas Trench, the deepest area of ocean on the planet.

The area totals 500,000 sq km (190,000 sq miles) of sea and sea floor.

While welcoming the protection package, environmental activists said that without curbing climate change, the other measures would be meaningless.

President George W Bush will formally announce the measure during an address on Tuesday evening in Washington.

Briefing journalists in advance, his environmental advisor James Connaughton said the move meant the US was "setting the mark for the world with respect to effective marine management".

"The conservation action is going to benefit the public and future generations through enhanced science, knowledge and awareness, and just good old-fashioned inspiration, because these places are exceptionally dynamic when it comes to the marine environment," said the chairman of the White House council on environmental quality.


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