President Creates National Monument In Hawaii

(KHNL) - Fisherman Bill Strickland's been taking his boat up to the Northwest Hawaiian Islands for 35 years, but that's coming to an end.

"It's going to put us out of business," Strickland said. "I was fishing up there and I don't see the damage. No damage that we've done up there."

The marine environment is now a national monument covering nearly 140,000 square miles thanks to President Bush.

"To put this area in context, this national monument is more than 100 times larger than Yosemite National Park, larger than 46 of our 50 states, and more than seven times larger than all our national marine sanctuaries combined," Bush said. "This is a big deal."

Environmentalists and marine researchers applauded the President's move. The Northwest Hawaiian Islands are home to some 7,000 species, including the Hawaiian monk seal and green sea turtles.

The marine sanctuary will become off limits to fishing, even to the handful of boats with permits for the area.

"It's very beautiful, it's everything the paper says it is," Strickland said. "But we're not damaging the grounds up there."

From radio buoys to 38 miles of longline, Strickland recently spent $60,000 refitting his boat for longline fishing. He says he may not make much money, but he doesn't have much choice.

At 42 feet in length, his boat can't hold enough tuna to make longline fishing profitable.

"Probably take whatever I can get for the boat," Strickland said. "I want to do some kind of fishing. I don't know what, but i'll do something."