The US is to create the world's largest marine reserve in the middle of the Pacific and has announced a crack down on illegal fishing
In a video address to an international ocean summit President Obama announced the creation of an 800,000 square mile reserve in the south-central Pacific which will be off-limits to commericial exploitation. The White House also announce the setting up of a new task force to stamp out illegal fishing and the black market trade in seafood.
'We can protect our oceans for future generations,' Obama said. 'Like Presidents Clinton and Bush before me I am going to use my authority as president to protect some of our most precious marine landscapes, just like we do for mountains and rivers and forests.'
The marine sanctuary under consideration would vastly expand the areas protected around the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument, which was originally established by George Bush.
The area, around seven uninhabited islands and atolls under US control, contains some of the most pristine marine environments in the world, the White House said in a statement.
Also at the Our Oceans conference, Leanardo DiCaprio pledged $7m to marine conservation. The actor and keen diver said: 'This is the most important issue of our time.'
The two-day conference convened by US Secretary of State John Kerry brought together officials from more than 80 countries to to discuss marine environmental issues.
Appearing on the second day of the conference, DiCaprio spoke of the environmental devastation he has witnessed.
'Since my very first dive in the Great Barrier Reef in Australia 20 years ago to the dive I got to do in the very same location just two years ago, I’ve witnessed environmental devastation firsthand,' he said.
'What once had looked like an endless underwater utopia is now riddled with bleached coral reefs and massive dead zones.'