Initiative: Protecting Native Resources in Hawaii
The Northwestern Hawaiian Islands (NWHI) are a network of coral reefs, islands, atolls and shoals that arch 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 Their survival as one of the Earth’s last remaining large-scale coral reef ecosystems is critical for the Pacific region. 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 sea birds.
In 2006, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Fish and Wildlife Service began developing regulations to implement a Bush Administration Proclamation to establish a National Marine Monument in the NWHI Islands.
In August (2016), President Obama used the 1906 Antiquities Act to quadruple the protected area to 582,578 square miles, now the largest ecologically protected area on earth.
With support of musical artist Jack Johnson, Rock the Earth worked with Hawaii conservation groups (KAHEA & the Hawaiian Environmental Alliance) to circulate a proclamation to ensure that the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Management Plan had sufficient protections intended by the Presidential Proclamation. We paid specific attention to the “research” permits being issued pursuant to the new regulations, which could potentially allow for activities that are contrary to the Proclamation and have detrimental impacts to the Monument.
Rock the Earth applauds the 2016 expansion of the Papahanaumokuakea Marine Natural Monument and the protections this affords this ecologically sensitive area.
If you’d like more information about Rock the Earth’s Education and Outreach or Legal and Technical work supporting the National Marine Monument and monitoring of the Management Plan to support it, contact us.