Our Treasure, Or Future – Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument

National Monuments Review Sample Comment Scripts for the Savvy Citizen.

Protect Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument

ACTION ALERT: public comment OPEN for the Department of Commerce review of all designations and expansions of National Marine Sanctuaries and Marine National Monuments since April 28, 2007
COMMENTS DUE BEFORE JULY 26. Click here to submit 

The following is a sample comment script. Please do not cut and paste!  Edit the script to make it your own and add personal commentary.  These scripts are designed to inform and are for inspiration and ideas!

For ideas on what to include in your submission, click here: “Suggested Outline or “Hot Topic” Review List for Comments.”   This link includes great information on how to construct a strong comment.  This information comes from saveEPAalums.info – an incredible resource.

Protect Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument – Sample Script for Friday, June 23, 2017:

Please protect Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument.

In 2009, President Bush established the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National and President Obama expanded the Monument in 2014.  The Monument provides protection to marine ecosystems and incorporates 86,888 square miles within its boundaries, which extend 50 nautical miles from Howland, Baker, and Jarvis Islands; Johnston, Wake, and Palmyra Atolls; and Kingman Reef.  I fully support the 2014 expansion as a critical step to protect the health of our oceans, the diversity of plant and animal species that we depend on for survival, as well as our ability to understand the impacts of climate change on our planet.   

This monument represents one of the last frontiers and havens for wildlife in the world, and include the most widespread collection of coral reef, seabird, and shorebird protected areas on the planet:

  • Johnston Atoll hosts at least 45 coral species, including species found only in the Hawaiian and northern Line Islands.
  • Kingman Atoll is the most undisturbed coral reef in the US and many nationally and internationally threatened, endangered, and depleted species thrive at Kingman and Palmyra.
  • Wake Atoll is the oldest living atoll in the world supporting hundreds of at-risk seabird and marine species.
  • Howland, Baker, and Jarvis Islands are the most remote and host colonies of breeding bird species and a large proportion of apex predators in the fish community.

Trump wants to undo the monument and succumb to his own ignorance and disregard, the short-sighted political leaders in Guam, Samoa and the Marianas Islands, as well and the pressure of fisherman in the area who are impacted by the restrictions. The critics of this monument, including the local fisherman, would like to trade immediate gratification in exchange for the very survival of their children and their children’s children.  If fishing stocks are depleted and the marine environment that supports their recovery is destroyed, there will be no fish, no life for anyone.  

Now is the time we need intelligent, brave leaders in the mold of Teddy Roosevelt, who see the value of asking sacrifice in the short term for the benefit of future generations of Americans and our international community. Guam Gov. Calvo, Northern Mariana Islands Gov. Torres, and American Samoa Gov. Moliga, who have asked Trump to rescind Pacific marine monuments, need to learn more about how to adapt to climate change which threatens their region and prepare a plan for supporting the economic transition for those impacted.

Trump blatantly ignores or doesn’t understand the value of healthy ocean ecosystems to our economy. Recent economic data prove the point. NOAA reported in April 2017 that the nation’s ocean economy grew three times the U.S. as a whole since pre-recession 2007 and has fueled growth across the country. (5) More from NOAA:

  • “…Inflation-adjusted gross GDP from the ocean economy grew 15.6 percent from 2007 to 2014, outpacing the overall U.S. economy, which grew at 5.8 percent.
  • “The ocean economy employed more than 3 million people—more than crop production, telecommunication and building construction combined—with approximately two thirds of those employees in the tourism and recreation sector.” (6)

Seventy percent of the planet is covered in water. Oceans are the largest ecosystems on Earth – our largest life support systems. Every breath we take contains oxygen produced by plant life in the oceans. It is widely understood that humankind needs to protect 30% of oceans to save the planet from climate change and support the resilience of the ecosystems against anthropogenic pressures. It is only healthy, thriving oceans that can absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and reduce the impact of climate change.

Scientists are still discovering new species and learning how a coral reef ecosystem is supposed to function away from human interference. Scientists have only explored and mapped less than 5% of the ocean! (1)  It is critical that we protect this extensive area from lethal activities such as fishing, mining, oil/gas exploration so scientists have a baseline understanding of marine ecosystems and with this understand we will be better able to monitor and support stressed and damaged oceans systems which are struggling to survive the impacts of climate change and other human pressures.  The World Wildlife Fund reported that marine life populations dropped nearly 50% between 1970 and 2012 (2), and a 2016 UN analysis found nearly 90% of global fish stocks are either depleted or over-fished. (3) (4)

Even with the protections afforded by this monument, these remote islands are still not free from the effects of climate change, ocean acidification, and introductions of invasive species.  Already there was a mass coral bleaching event in 2016 at Jarvis Island with 90-95% coral mortality that scientists are trying to understand.   

Today less than 2% of marine systems are protected.  The Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument is a step in the right direction, but in reality is only a small step toward what we will need to accomplish as a nation, in cooperation with the international community, to mitigate the terrible effects of climate change on the planet and protect biodiversity. Our security, our economy, our very survival all require healthy oceans.

Background information on the monument and FAQ’s from NOAA and the US Fish and Wildlife Service:  (7) (8)
  • “Johnston Atoll – Johnston Atoll is an ancient atoll that’s comprised of Johnston, Sand, North, and East Islands. It’s the northernmost point of the Line Islands archipelago. Johnston supports at least 45 coral species, including a thriving table coral community and a dozen species found only in the Hawaiian and northern Line Islands. Large populations of seabirds, sea turtles, whales, and reef sharks are found here as well.
  • Palmyra Atoll and Kingman Reef -Part of the Line Islands chain, Palmyra Atoll and Kingman Reef are also remnants of volcanoes from some 65–120 million years ago. Kingman is the most undisturbed coral reef within the United States, complete with a greater proportion of apex predators (sharks and jacks) than any other studied coral reef ecosystem in the world. Palmyra Atoll, which consists of about 50 islets and a few lagoons, supports breeding populations of 11 species of seabirds, including one of the largest red-footed booby colonies in the world and the largest black noddy colony in the Central Pacific. Many nationally and internationally threatened, endangered, and depleted species thrive at Palmyra and Kingman, including sea turtles, pearl oysters, giant clams, reef sharks, coconut crabs, fishes, and dolphins.
  • Wake Atoll – Made up of Wake, Wilkes, and Peale Islands, Wake Atoll is the northernmost atoll in the Marshall Islands geological ridge and perhaps the oldest living atoll in the world. In addition to being an active U.S. Air Force airfield, the atoll provides important seabird and migratory shorebird habitat, as well as vibrant coral reefs that support large populations of fishes in the monument waters. More than 300 fish species and 100 coral species thrive on shallow coral reefs, along with giant clams, marine turtles, and spinner dolphins.
  • Howland, Baker, and Jarvis Islands – All three of these islands hug the Equator and were formed as fringing reefs around small islands built by volcanoes some 65–120 million years ago. They support grasses adapted to the arid climate at the Equator and host colonies of 15 different breeding seabird species, some with population sizes of international significance. Beyond the shallow fringing reefs and terraces, the slopes of the extinct volcanoes drop off sharply to the deep floor of the equatorial Pacific Ocean. Here, countercurrents create localized, nutrient-rich upwelling in the shallows near the islands that result in high fish biomasses. These remote and rarely visited reefs are characterized by a large proportion of apex predators in the fish community; giant clams, sharks, and sea turtles are also abundant.”
Sources:
  1. Just How Little Do We Know about the Ocean Floor?
  2. Some Ocean Populations Declined by Nearly 50 Percent Between 1970 and 2012
  3. Global Fish Stocks Depleted to ‘Alarming’ Levels
  4. 2016 State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture
  5. Trump’s Executive Orders Ignore The Ocean’s ‘Blue Economy’
  6. NOAA’s report on U.S. ocean and Great Lakes economy shows growth
  7. NOAA Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument
  8. USFWS Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument

Photo: Green turtles are commonly observed at Palmyra Atoll National Wildlife Refuge. June, 2009. USFWS.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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