WASHINGTON — Last Sunday, the president signed a bipartisan government funding bill which included a provision authored by U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i) that will strengthen protections for the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument by starting the process to designate it as a National Marine Sanctuary.
“A new sanctuary designation means more resources and stronger protections for Papahanaumokuakea,” said Sen. Schatz. “This will give us more opportunities to better understand and conserve one of our most important natural resources.”
The Schatz provision directs the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to commence the process to designate Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument as a National Marine Sanctuary. Following this initiation, NOAA can begin public meetings and the formal legal process to complete the requirements to finalize an official designation. Sanctuary status for the Monument would make it more difficult to weaken the protections in the Executive Orders signed by Presidents Obama and Bush.
Schatz also secured $1.2 million for research and management activities at the marine monument in this year’s appropriations bill, which is a $200,000 increase from last year. The funding is subject to a 100 percent non-federal match and will bring new resources to keep the Hawaiian archipelago healthy and productive. Past uses of the funding have included research to understand the impact of climate change on the ecosystem, and the removal of marine debris.