Treasure Trove of Pacific Wildlife Need Your Support for Expanded Marine National Monument

from Wildlife Promise

Red Footed Boobie

Red Footed Booby at Palmyra Aytoll NWR. Photo by Laura M. Beauregard/USFWS.

It isn’t often that you get to mention four previous Presidents—Calvin Coolidge, Richard Nixon, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush—in the same breath as our current President, Barack Obama.  But each one—three Republicans and two Democrats—has recognized that one or more of the Pacific Remote islands (see map) and their waters were important enough to designate them as national wildlife refuges, or in President Bush’s case, made them marine monuments.

Now, President Obama has the opportunity to protect a much, much larger area of deeper waters around the islands for us and future generations. The expanded areas would help preserve biodiversity and abundance as the earth’s oceans continue to warm and acidify.

Pacific Remote Islands Expansion Marine National Monument Expansion Map

Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument expansion map. Marine Conservation Institute

Ecological Treasure Trove

The five interconnected protected areas that make up the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument, and the waters around them, are an ecological treasure unlike anything else in the U.S.  They are some of the richest areas on Earth for marine life, and some of the least disturbed left on earth. They are of global and regional importance for large predatory fishes like endangered Bluefin tuna and declining Bigeye tuna, as well as endangered seabirds, marine mammals and sea turtles.

Expanding the boundary of the monument out to 200 nautical miles provides protection for an entire ecosystem – from near shore to the deep sea and would make the monument the largest protected network on earth.

The expanded monument would protect a treasure trove of unique and irreplaceable natural resources including:

  • Almost 250 seamounts, or undersea mountains—the majority of which are unexplored.  Every research expedition to this area discovers large numbers of new marine species.
  • An estimated 14 million seabirds representing 19 species use these areas as feeding and breeding grounds, including the endangered Black-footed Albatross and Phoenix Petrel.
  • Important habitat for protected species of sea turtles and marine mammals, some of which are critically endangered, like the Leatherback and Green sea turtle species, and the Sei Whale and Blue Whale.
  • Remarkably rich coral ecosystems, with the oldest coral up to 5,000 years old.

Those five American Presidents starting with Calvin Coolidge and ending with Barack Obama are about to be joined by some others. Several presidents of Pacific nations that are near the proposed expansion –President Tong of Kiribati, President Remengasau of Palau, and Prime Minister Puna of the Cook Islands have all pledged to create large marine protected areas near ours to help protect an even bigger part of the central Pacific ocean in this era of overfishing and climate change.

Please Lend Your Support!

Take ActionYou can help convince President Obama to complete the job and officially designate the monument expansion by sending your comment to PRI@noaa.gov no later than August 15.  Or submit by using the language at: bit.ly/SupportPRIMNM

If you live in or are visiting Hawai‘i, consider giving your opinion in person at a Town Hall scheduled for this coming Monday, August 11, in Honolulu at the Ala Moana Hotel, Carnation Room, 410 Atkinson Drive Honolulu, from 5:00 – 7:00 pm.

About the Author

Mike Gravitz, Marine Conservation InstituteMike Gravitz is the Director of Policy and Legislation for the Marine Conservation Institute in Washington, DC