The announcement is a step toward a goal set out by the United Nations' target to protect 10 percent of the ocean by 2020. Right now, less than 2 percent of the ocean is protected.
Wayne Pacelle, President and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States, told The Dodo that the announcement was a big step towards that goal.
"We know that everything is connected – the ocean and the atmosphere, the ocean and the rivers, stream sand coastlines," he said. "Only about 30% of marine organisms have been described by science. And what we know about them is that they are in trouble from human-caused problems: overuse through targeted taking and incidental take, from habitat destruction, climate change, ocean acidification, marine debris, run-offand pollution, to name a few. We must do more to protect marine animals and plants and their habitats."
David Becker contributed reporting to this story.