President Barack Obama visited his massively expanded National Marine Reserve off the coast of Hawaii, using the opportunity to do some snorkeling with friends away from the eyes of the press corp.
The Papahānaumokuākea marine reserve was first created by President George W. Bush, but Obama has decided to expand it by over half a million square miles.
The new boundaries of Papahānaumokuākea marine reserve are larger than all national parks combined and over twice the size of Texas, according to Forbes’ Trevor Nace.
The president flew aboard Air Force One to Midway Atoll, before leading a golf cart sightseeing tour with the press.
“I can’t wait to get in,” he said, as he stood near the beach, pointing out area sea turtles.
Obama explained why he decided to use his executive authority to protect the surrounding waters.
“Ancient islanders believed it contained the boundary between this life and the next,” Obama said. “This is a hallowed site, and it deserves to be treated that way. And from now on, it will be preserved for future generations.”
Because of Obama’s new executive decision, 60 percent of federal waters off Hawaii are now closed to fishing.
“I look forward to knowing that 20 years from now, 40 years from now, 100 years from now, this is a place where people can still come to and see what a place like this looks like when it’s not overcrowded or destroyed by human populations,” Obama said.
The president is now on his way to China to attend the G20 summit.