The United States outgoing president George Bush and his government is to protect large areas in the Pacific Ocean from commercial exploitation.
The three areas include the Rose Atoll in American Samoa, the Mariana Trench and northern Mariana Islands and a chain of remote islands in the Central Pacific.
Malcolm Brown reports.
"More than half a million square kilometres of ocean and seabed are being designated as Marine National Monuments. The protected areas includes the Marianas Trench, the deepest section of ocean in the world. The chairman of the White House council on environmental quality, Jim Connaughton, says the action will prevent the destruction of some of the world's most pristine natural resources, which are rich in biodiversity. Ocean advocates have welcomed the move, coming as it does from an administration frequently criticised by environmentalists."