Hawaiian leaders seek expansion of marine conservation area

A group of Native Hawaiian leaders are urging President Barack Obama to expand what's already one of the largest marine conservation areas in the world.

Papahanaumokuakea (pah-pah-HAH-now-moh-cuh-ah-cay-ah) Marine National Monument encompasses remote islands, atolls, islets and coral reefs with natural and cultural significance.

Sean Martin, president of the Hawaii Longline Association, said Friday the lobbying effort is using Hawaiian culture as an excuse to close off more waters to fishermen.

Those pushing for expansion include the deputy chairman of the Department of Hawaiian Homelands and the Polynesian Voyaging Society president.

They're calling for Obama to expand the monument to the full 200 nautical-mile limit of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands economic zone.

The main Hawaiian islands would remain outside the boundaries.