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Washington (AFP) – President Barack Obama will on Tuesday announce plans to significantly expand a U.S. sanctuary in the central Pacific Ocean in a move that could create the world’s largest such protected area, the Washington Post reported.

Obama will announce his intent to enlarge the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument from almost 87,000 square miles to nearly 782,000 square miles, the Post said.

The order, which would come into force later this year after a comment period, would make fishing, energy exploration and other activities off limits in the area, which includes uninhabited islands in a remote region.

The new area is adjacent to islands and atolls controlled by the United States and would include waters up to 200 nautical miles offshore from these territories.

The move is likely to trigger a political battle with Republicans over the scope of President Barack Obama’s executive powers, the paper said.

Photo: Jim Watson via AFP

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