|A National Marine Sanctuary is proposed for Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, with |
public comment accepted through Jan. 31. Photos from NOAA
NOAA PROPOSES A NATIONAL MARINE SANCTUARY FOR HAWAIIAN WATERS, focusing on the northwestern islands and Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration is accepting public comment on the proposal through Jan. 31.
The proposed location of the new marine sanctuary is already one of the largest stretches of protected ocean in the world. However, National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration's Administrator Rick Spinrad said, “Papahānaumokuākea’s ecosystems areincreasingly under pressure from threats such as marine debris,invasive species, and climate change. Designation of the monument’s waters as a national marine sanctuary would complement the efforts of the four co-trustees to safeguard the monument’s natural, cultural, and historic values.” Those co-trustees are Office of Hawaiian Affairs, state of Hawai'i, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and NOAA.
In addition to overseeing an area larger than all of the other U.S. national parks combined, Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument operates Mokupāpapa Discovery Center in the historic, century old Koehnen Building in Hilo. It is open to the public. Seehttps://www.papahanaumokuakea.gov/education/center.htm
NOAA announced that the new sanctuary "designation would build on existing management in the marine portions of the monument by adding the conservation benefits and enhanced long-term protection
of a national marine sanctuary." The U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations, Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, & Related Agencies' Report for Fiscal Year 2021 directed NOAA to initiate the process to designate the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument as a national marine
|Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument is already larger than all of the U.S. National|
Parks combined and would become a marine sanctuary for further protection and management.
Map from NOAA
sanctuary to supplement and complement, rather than supplant, existing authorities. Stakeholders and partners, including the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Coral Reef Ecosystem Reserve Advisory Council and the State of Hawai’i, support the current sanctuary designation process.
Since the designation of the site as the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Coral Reef Ecosystem Reserve
Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument is the largest contiguous fully-protected conservation area under the U.S. flag, encompassing an area of 582,578 square miles of the Pacific Ocean. Home to the highly endangered Hawaiian monk seal, threatened green turtles, extensive coral reef habitat, and many species found nowhere else on earth, "the complex and highly productive marine ecosystems of the monument are significant contributors to the biological diversity of the ocean, says a statement from NOAA."
"Many of the monument’s extensive education, outreach, and research accomplishments have been executed under the authority of the National Marine Sanctuaries Act. Sanctuary designation would enhance the benefits and expertise offered by the National Marine Sanctuary
"Designation would also allow NOAA to apply additional regulatory and non-regulatory tools to augment and strengthen existing protections for Papahānaumokuākea ecosystems, wildlife, and cultural and maritime heritage resources. The sanctuary designation would not include any terrestrial areas or change the monument designation."
To comment, see the Federal Register notice and learn more at https://sanctuaries.noaa.gov/papahanaumokuakea/
|A school of galapagos sharks/manō at Maro Reef in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. NOAA photo|
State officials are also urging caution, as some places in Europe that dropped COVID restrictions earlier are experiencing their highest COVID cases since the pandemic began. Attempts to bring back COVID regulations and lockdowns are spurning some civil unrest.