US President Barack Obama has signed a memorandum to expand a vast marine reserve in the Pacific Ocean.
The Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument will become the largest network of oceanic protected areas in the world.
The memorandum bans commercial fishing, deep-sea mining and other extraction of underwater resources in the area.
The Cook Islands announced the creation of the world’s largest marine park at the opening of the Pacific Islands Forum on Tuesday, a vast swathe of ocean almost twice the size of France.
Prime Minister Henry Puna said the 1.065 million square kilometre (411,000 square mile) reserve “(is) the largest area in history by a single country for integrated ocean conservation and management”.
Puna said protecting the Pacific, one of the last pristine marine ecosystems, was the Cooks’ major contribution “to the well-being of not only our peoples, but also of humanity”.
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