President Obama declared new marine sanctuaries in Lake Michigan and the tidal waters of Maryland on Monday, while Chile blocked off more than 200,000 square miles of the Pacific Ocean—what it said is the third-largest marine reserve in the world—near the world-famous Easter Island from commercial fishing and oil and gas exploration. Several nations gathered for the Our Ocean conference in Valparaiso, Chile, also outlined plans for tracing seafood imports to combat overfishing and stemming increased pollution in the ocean. The new National Marine Sanctuaries in the United States are the first to be designated as such in 15 years, the White House said. They include:
- The 875-square mile area of Wisconsin's Lake Michigan extends from Port Washington to Two Rivers, containing a collection of 39 known shipwrecks. Fifteen are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
- The Mallows Bay-Potomac River in Maryland encompasses a 14-square mile area of the tidal Potomac River next to Charles County. Nearly 200 vessels, some dating back to the Revolutionary War, are found in the largely undeveloped area that provides habitat for endangered wildlife and fish.
Obama last year expanded the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument
by 400,000 square miles, excluding it from commercial fishing, deep sea mining, and other resource extraction. It's the largest marine reserve in the world. Obama said he would seek to protect more American waters in coming months. Britain, Gabon, Kiribati, New Zealand, and Palau have taken steps as well to protect sections of the sea in recent months.