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Hawaii Bans Fishing Off N.W. Islands

October 01, 2005|From Associated Press

HONOLULU — Fishing will be banned and public access limited in the state waters surrounding the tiny islands and atolls of the northwestern Hawaiian Islands, which stretch for 1,200 nearly pristine miles across the Pacific.

Gov. Linda Lingle signed the new rules Thursday, creating the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands State Marine Refuge.

State waters extend three miles from the shores of the largely uninhabited area, which starts about 155 miles northwest of Kauai.

The area is home to delicate coral reefs, scores of fish species and endangered Hawaiian monk seals and sea turtles.

The new rules will continue to allow traditional Native Hawaiian cultural practices in the area, but public access will be limited.

Peter Young, chairman of the state Department of Land and Natural Resources, said Hawaii was asking the federal government to ban fishing in a proposed national marine sanctuary extending 50 miles from the islands.

Young said that if fishing and other types of harvesting -- such as coral gathering -- were banned in all waters around the islands, the protected marine area would be the largest in the world.

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