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Papahanaumokuakea reaches milestone

  • Photo by Mark-Sullivan-NOAA

    Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument is home to many species found nowhere else on Earth and is a critically important nesting ground for green sea turtles and breeding ground for Hawaiian monk seals.

LIHU‘E — Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument celebrated 10 years as a World Heritage Site at the end of July in the midst of ongoing attempts to to open the Pacific Remote Islands and Papahanaumokuakea marine national monuments to commercial fishing.

In early May, the Western Pacific Regional Fisheries Managemetn Council (Wespac) sent a letter to President Donald Trump, asking the president to “…please consider lifting the fishing restrictions in the Pacific marine national monuments and allowing America’s fishermen to fish again in the US EEZ…”

The letter was sent in response to the president’s Executive Order to Promote American Seafood Competitiveness and Economic Growth.

The Hawai‘i Department of Land and Natural Resources has publically opposed the request, and sent their own letter to the Trump Administration, stating their disagreement with the Wespac request.

In the letter to President Trump, DLNR Chairperson Suzanne Case stated, “As Chair of the Council’s Hawai‘i Archipelago and Pacific Remote Islands Area Ecosystems Standing Committee, I can attest that the fishing restrictions for the monuments are a key component of the proper care and management of the protected objects.”

Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument was designated in 2006 and expanded a decade later to protect the waters surrounding the Northwest Hawaiian Islands which have immense scientific, historical, and cultural importance. The Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument, which protects the waters surrounding the US Pacific Territories of Baker, Howland, and Jarvis Island; Johnston, Wake, and Palmyra Atoll; and Kingman Reef, was designated in 2009 and expanded in 2014.

On July 30, 2010, Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument was inscribed as a mixed World Heritage site by United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

Because the monument represents one of the best examples of both the world’s cultural as well as natural heritage, it has the distinction of being named the only mixed World Heritage site within the United States. It is one of only 24 World Heritage sites in the U.S., and one of two in Hawai‘i, along with Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park.

“A World Heritage site is part of an international community that appreciates and has concerns for universally significant properties,” says Athline Clark, NOAA superintendent of Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument. “Through a shared interest, countries join hands to protect and cherish the world’s natural and cultural heritage, expressed in a commitment to preserving our legacy for future generations.”


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