Our Treasure, Our Future – Marianas Trench Marine National Monument

National Monuments Review Sample Comment Scripts for the Savvy Citizen.

Protect Marianas Trench 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 Marianas Trench Marine National Monument – Sample Script for Friday, June 23rd, 2017:

Please protect the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument. This place is like no other on Earth. This marine environment is of interest to scientists for many reasons and should be preserved intact without human interference and pressures from fishing, mining and oil/gas/methane exploration and drilling. It consists of active undersea volcanoes and thermal vents that support life in the harshest conditions imaginable.  Many scientists believe extreme conditions like these could have been the first incubators of life on Earth.

Scientists are still discovering new species there and learning how these unique marine ecosystems are supposed to function away from human interference. Scientists have only explored and mapped less than 5% of the ocean! (1)  For the scientific community, places like Marianas Trench offer incredible opportunities to discover something new and to increase our scientific understanding of our planet.  For example, it is the only place on Earth where photosynthetic and chemosynthetic communities of life co-exist, along with unique pools of liquid sulfur, which support abundant marine life and unusual and mysterious creatures. (2) (3)

Despite the fact that the majority of the monument and coastal ecosystems are intact, they are susceptible to climate change, like coral bleaching and ocean acidification, which is why it is important to protect them from additional human-induced pressures. Additional studies and research not only on the ecological phenomenon of Marianas Trench, but also on the impacts of climate change, will lead to solutions to address this global issue. It is critical that we protect this unique area from lethal activities such as fishing, mining, oil/gas exploration so scientists have a baseline understanding of marine ecosystems and with this knowledge we will be better able to monitor and support stressed and damaged ocean systems which are struggling to survive.   (4)        

Trump wants to undo the monument and succumb to his own willful ignorance and disregard, and to the short-sighted political leaders in the region as well and the pressure of industries that are impacted by the restrictions of this monument’s designation. The critics of this monument would like to trade immediate gratification in exchange for the very survival of their children and their children’s children. At some point 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.

About 71 percent of the Earth’s surface is water-covered, and the oceans hold about 96.5 percent of all Earth’s 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.

Today less than 2% of marine systems are protected.  The Marianas Trench 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.

Here’s more reasons why this place is worth protecting:

  • The area contains the deepest known points in the world’s ocean. The Marianas Trench, the site of the deepest place on Earth, is approximately 940 nautical miles long and 38 nautical miles wide.
  • The area includes the largest active mud volcanoes on Earth. The Champagne vent is located at the Eifuku submarine volcano. It produces almost pure liquid carbon dioxide. This phenomenon has only been observed in one other location in the world.  
  • The Sulfur Cauldron is a pool of liquid sulfur found at the Daikoku submarine volcano. The only other known location of molten sulfur is on Io, a moon of Jupiter.
  • The northernmost Mariana reefs have unique volcanic habitats that support marine biological communities requiring basalt. Basalt is a type of volcanic rock that other reefs across the Pacific do not require.
  • And Maug Crater is one of only a few places on Earth where communities of life requiring photosynthesis and chemosynthesis coexist.
  • The waters of the Northern Mariana Islands are among the most biologically diverse in the Western Pacific. They include the greatest diversity of hydrothermal vent life ever discovered.
  • It is one of the few areas where photosynthetic communities (where organisms convert light energy to chemical energy) coexist with chemosynthetic communities (where organisms convert some carbon molecules into chemical energy). Biodiversity is rich in the upper part of the water column
  • These volcanic islands are surrounded by coral ecosystems with very high numbers of sharks and reef fish.
  • The islands contain one of the most diverse collections of stony corals in the Western Pacific. These relatively pristine coral reef ecosystems are essential to the long-term study of tropical marine ecosystems. (5)
Background on the monument:
  • The Marianas Trench Marine National Monument is one of four Marine National Monuments across the Pacific designated by president Bush in 2009.
  • Over approximately 480 nautical miles, the Mariana Archipelago encompasses the 14 islands of the United States Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and the United States Territory of Guam that sit atop the Mariana Ridge in an area known as the Mariana Volcanic Arc.
  • The Mariana Volcanic Arc is part of a subduction system in which the Pacific Plate plunges beneath the Philippine Sea Plate and into the Earth’s mantle, creating the Mariana Trench. Six of the archipelago’s islands have been volcanically active in historic times, and numerous seamounts along the Mariana Ridge are volcanically and hydrothermally active.
  • The Mariana Volcanic Arc contains objects of scientific interest, including the largest active mud volcanoes on Earth. The Champagne vent, located at the Eifuku submarine volcano, produces almost pure liquid carbon dioxide. This phenomenon has only been observed at one other site in the world. The Sulfur Cauldron, a pool of liquid sulfur, is found at the Daikoku submarine volcano. The only other known location of molten sulfur is on Io, a moon of Jupiter.
  • The waters of the archipelago’s northern islands are among the most biologically diverse in the Western Pacific and include the greatest diversity of seamount and hydrothermal vent life yet discovered. These volcanic islands are ringed by coral ecosystems with very high numbers of apex predators (those predators that are not preyed upon as healthy adults in the wild), including large numbers of sharks.
  • They also contain one of the most diverse collections of stony corals in the Western Pacific. The northern islands and shoals in the archipelago have substantially higher large fish biomass, including apex predators, than the southern islands and Guam. The waters of Farallon de Pajaros (also known as Uracas), Maug, and Asuncion support some of the largest biomass of reef fishes in the Mariana Archipelago. These relatively pristine coral reef ecosystems are objects of scientific interest and essential to the long-term study of tropical marine ecosystems.
  • The Federal land and interests in land reserved consists of approximately 95,216 square miles of submerged lands and waters of the Mariana Archipelago, which is the smallest area compatible with the proper care and management of the objects to be protected.
  • Submerged lands that by legislation are subsequently granted by the United States to the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands but remain controlled by the United States under the Antiquities Act may remain part of the monument, for coordination of management with the Government of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. Any submerged lands and interests in submerged lands within the monument not owned or controlled by the United States shall be reserved as a part of the monument upon acquisition of title or control by the United States. (6)
Sources:
  1. Just How Little Do We Know about the Ocean Floor?
  2. New Species and Surprising Findings in the Mariana Trench
  3. Mission to Mariana Trench Records Dozens of Crazy Deep Sea Creatures
  4. Exploring the Deepest Part of Our Ocean
  5. Protecting the Mariana Trench
  6. Proclamation 8335—Establishment of the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument
More to Learn:

 

Photo: This stunningly beautiful jellyfish was seen during Dive 4 of the Deepwater Exploration of the Marianas expedition on April 24, 2016, while exploring Enigma Seamount at a depth of ~3,700 meters. NOAA

 

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2 thoughts on “Our Treasure, Our Future – Marianas Trench Marine National Monument”

  1. I will be attending the Climate Reality Leadership Training in Bellevue WA which runs Tuesday through Thursday. Summer Montacute, who is the organizer of Washington Women CAN (Climate Action Now) asked me to pass along the invitation below. Her contact information follows.

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