The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Fish and Wildlife
Service are developing regulations to implement a Bush Administration
Proclamation to establish a National Monument in the NW HI Islands. Rock the
Earth and local conservation groups are monitoring the situation to ensure that
the regulations drafted provide the greatest protection to this remarkable
The Northwestern Hawaiian Islands are a network of coral reefs, islands,
atolls and shoals that arches through the Pacific Ocean for 1,200 miles
northwest of the Main Hawaiian Islands. These prehistoric landmasses are the
oldest parts of the Hawaiian archipelago. Celebrated in stories of creation as
the place where Hawai‘i began, these ancient islands are often described as the
kupuna, or ancestors, of the Main Hawaiian Islands, and their survival as one of
the Earth’s last remaining large-scale coral reef ecosystems is a critical issue
for the Pacific region and the entire planet. The Northwestern Hawaiian Islands
ecosystem contains over 3.5 million acres of some of the world’s oldest living
coral colonies and encompasses tremendous biodiversity. More than 7,000 marine
species have been recorded in the NWHI, among them, the endangered Hawaiian monk
seal, endangered and threatened sea turtles, reef fish, bottom fish, sharks,
corals, anemones, jellyfish, mollusks, sea grasses, algae and over 14 million
Since 2000, more than 100 meetings and working group sessions and 30 formal
public hearings generated more than 100,000 comments, the vast majority in favor
of strong conservation measures for the NWHI. With financial support from
Jack Johnson, RtE has begun collaborating with KAHEA, the
Hawaiian Environmental Alliance, to protect the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands.
On June 15, 2006, the Bush White House announced its intent to protect these
magnificent natural resources using the most protective measures available under
law, by declaring the area a National Marine Monument under the federal
Antiquities Act. It is a milestone in ocean and cultural rights protection, and
an encouraging response to a long struggle and to consistent public support. The
Monument will be jointly managed by U.S. Fish and Wildlife and NOAA, and in
close consultation and coordination with the State.
WHAT THE PROCLAMATION LANGUAGE PROVIDES
• Builds on and augments the existing NWHI Coral Reef Ecosystem Reserve
protections (the Executive Orders, USFW Refuge).
• Fully protects access for
Native Hawaiian traditional and customary cultural practices, including
consuming fish in the Kupuna Islands.
• Recreational activity and historic
visits are allowed only at Midway Atoll, as approved by the U.S. Fish and
• Dumping of waste in Monument waters is prohibited.
Commercial fishing will be phased out over a five year period. In the interim,
fishing boats are required to abide by "no dumping" in State and Monument
waters, no fishing in protected areas, and fishing caps are maximized at 350,000
lbs. bottomfish and 180,000 lbs. pelagic fish.
• All other resource
extraction activities are forever banned.
• Educational and scientific
activities will be limited and "carefully regulated.”
• National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration and the Fish and Wildlife Service will share
management duties in cooperation with the state. USFW has sole jurisdiction over
the existing Hawaiian Island Refuge, the Midway Refuge, and the WWII Midway
• Research will only be allowed if it directly furthers
the management or recovery of the Monument.
• The Monument will receive a
Native Hawaiian name. This process is being overseen by the Native Hawaiian
Cultural Working Group of the NWHI Coral Reef Reserve Advisory Council.
On August 29, NOAA and USFW issued regulations implementing the proclamation.
We are in the process of reviewing these regulations for consistency with the
stringent protections contained within the Proclamation. Meanwhile, the agencies
are still in the process of developing the Management Plan to implement the
Proclamation and Regulations, which Plan is expected out by the end of 2006
RtE is monitoring the situation closely to ensure that full protections
intended by the Presidential Proclamation are being enforced. Of immediate
concern are “research” permits being issued pursuant to the new regulations,
which permits may allow for activities that are contrary to the Proclamation and
which may cause irreparable, detrimental impact to the Monument. RtE and KAHEA,
will, if necessary, challenge permits that are inconsistent with the intent of
the Proclamation and do not effect the greatest level of protection for the
15, 2006 Presidential Proclamation establishing NW HI Islands Marine National
August 29, 2006
Regulations implementing the Presidential Proclamation
NW HI Islands NOAA Website
KAHEA - The Hawiian Environmental Alliance