Marianas Trench Marine Monument Takes Step To Sanctuary Status
NOAA adds Monument to national inventory list; as step closer to more protection
By John I Borja
HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, March 19, 2017) – The Marianas Trench Marine National Monument is one step closer to earning sanctuary status.
The monument recently was placed under the national inventory, which means it’s being considered for sanctuary designation by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, according to a news release.
Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands Gov. Ralph Torres and CNMI Del. Kilili Sablan made the announcement Wednesday.
“The federal government declared our unique marine resources a national treasure and we must pursue avenues for federal resources to ensure adequate conservation for future generations and the promised benefits for our people,” Torres said in the release.
By being on the inventory list, NOAA acknowledges the Mariana Trench monument has ecological, historical, cultural and archaeological significance, and a need for conservation of threatened resources, the release stated.
If the monument becomes a marine sanctuary, it would see more conservation efforts for its ecological environment and habitat, including regulations that prohibit destructive activities within the monument’s domain, as stated in the National Marine Sanctuaries Act.
Getting on the national inventory required a lot of participation from elected leaders and residents of the Marianas, the release stated. The CNMI governor and congressman sent a letter to former U.S. President Barack Obama in September, initiating the journey toward sanctuary status.
“From the sea floor to the surface, the marine areas of our monument encompass biological, chemical and geological marvels — and provide critical habit to an astonishing diversity of deep-sea life, corals, fish, whales, turtles and seabirds,” they wrote.
Two months later, Friends of the Mariana Trench filed a petition with NOAA, nominating the monument as a marine sanctuary. The petition garnered support from CNMI senators, mayors and 1,500 residents in the Mariana Islands, the release stated.
The Marianas Trench Marine National Monument was added to the national inventory on March 13. As of Friday, the monument is one of five being considered for sanctuary designation, according to NOAA’s website. The monument will be extensively reviewed for possible sanctuary designation, a lengthy process that could take several years, according to NOAA.
The monument was established in 2009 and encompasses approximately 95,216 square miles of submerged lands and water around the Mariana Islands, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Pacific Daily News
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