DLNR Press Release: ON WORLD OCEANS DAY, GOVERNOR IGE ANNOUNCES SUPPORT FOR PACIFIC REMOTE ISLANDS NATIONAL MARINE MONUMENT EXPANSION
Posted on June 8, 2022 in Latest news from the department, Press room
(HONOLULU) – The proposed expansion of the Pacific Outlying Islands Marine National Monument would make it the largest marine protected area (MPA) in the world.
Today, alongside the signing of four bills to better protect ocean waters around Hawaii, Governor David Ige expressed his full support for the proposal.
“Here in the Pacific, the ocean connects us. The remote islands of the Pacific are among the last wild and healthy marine ecosystems in the world, largely due to the lack of human activity. I agree that expanding of this Marine National Monument is politically feasible, culturally supported and builds on the work already done to keep this part of the Pacific Ocean healthy and abundant,” Governor Ige said.
The monument was created in 2009 by President George W. Bush and later expanded by President Barack Obama in 2014. On June 1, the Pacific Outlying Islands Coalition asked President Biden to expand the monument further. According to the coalition, full protection is needed in the waters around Howard and Baker Islands, as well as Kingman Reef and Palmyra Atoll.
The marine monument currently comprises 789,141 square miles and the proposed expansion would add another 425,639 square miles to the monument.
Extensive research on Palmyra Atoll and other Pacific islands over the past twenty years has confirmed the strong ecological connection between pelagic fish, foraging birds and coral reef communities. The areas’ seamounts create productive, nutrient-rich hotspots. Foraging seabirds bring these nutrients back to their island nesting grounds which feed the surrounding coral reef communities. Protecting these ocean waters is essential to this cycle.
Proponents say the expansion would honor the memory and sacrifice of members of Hui Panala’au, 130 mostly Native Hawaiian men who were sent to Howland, Baker and Jarvis Islands from 1935 to 1942, which enabled the United States to claim jurisdiction over the region.
They also note that the Papahānaumokuakea Marine National Monument, which the State of Hawaii co-manages with federal partners and the Bureau of Hawaiian Affairs, is the only intact cultural travel seascape in the Hawaiian Islands. “Extending protection could also preserve the remote islands of the Pacific as a first classroom for ancestral travel, preserving and promoting the culture and history of the seafaring peoples of the Pacific,” according to the coalition.
Additional benefits of an expanded Pacific Outlying Islands National Marine Monument include:
- The monument is a complex and interconnected ecosystem and expansion is needed to ensure the continued health of the land and coastal areas in deeper waters for the abundant populations of marine wildlife.
- Protection would preemptively protect tuna and other pelagic predatory fish from climate change, and by extension other species that depend on their role in the food web for continued stability.
- The expansion provides protections to important historical artifacts from our shared past, from ancient Polynesian exploration to World War II.
Proponents say the expansion would not significantly affect fishing operations in the area “and would in fact protect the area from possible deep-sea mining which would cause acute disruption of the ecosystem and therefore catches. in the surrounding waters.
In a coalition press release, Native Hawaiian elder Sol Kaho’ohalahala said, “The remote islands of the Pacific have invaluable connections to our past and hold promise for our future as Pacific peoples. Just as these waters are at the crossroads of cross-cultural travel routes across Polynesia, they are also at the intersection of climate change mitigation, cultural practice and scientific discovery. We must protect these waters.
In Governor Ige’s letter of support to President Biden, he wrote, “I understand that large-scale marine protected areas are essential to maintaining resilience to climate change, protecting biodiversity and enhancing fisheries…I believe the proposal to expand the boundaries… balance the social and economic needs of today with the future health of our ocean.
The call for expanded protections is already backed by Hawai’i US Representative Ed Case and seven local organizations, including the Bishop Museum, the Papahānaumokuakea Native Hawaiian Cultural Working Group and Papa Ola Lokahi.
# # #
(All images/videos courtesy of DLNR unless otherwise stated)
HD Video – Governor David Ige’s Remarks on Support for Expansion (June 8, 2022):
HD Video – Fan interviews and b-roll (Courtesy of Pacific Remote Islands Coalition):
Photographs – (Credits to individual photos):
Senior Communications Manager
Hawaii Department of Lands and Natural Resources