National Monuments Review Sample Comment Scripts for the Savvy Citizen.
Protect Rose Atoll 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
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Protect Rose Atoll Marine National Monument – Sample Script for Friday, June 23, 2017:
Please protect Rose Atoll Marine National Monument. Protecting this small atoll is 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.
President Bush designated this monument in 2009, and it is one of four Marine National Monuments across the Pacific that protect diverse marine ecosystems. This monument is managed cooperatively by the American Samoan Government, NOAA, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and has cultural significance to the Polynesian people. This small atoll, which includes the Rose Atoll National Wildlife Refuge with about 20 acres of land and 1,600 acres of lagoon, remains one of the most pristine atolls in the world and is one of the last remaining refuges for the seabird and turtle species of the Central Pacific.
“These places are so pristine that they are like time machines that take us hundreds of years in the past,” says Enric Sala, a marine ecologist at the National Geographic Society. “You jump in the water and immediately you are surrounded by 10, 15 sharks that are very curious, and many other fishes that have probably never have seen humans before,” says Sala. “It feels like the sensation that Darwin must have had when he stepped in the Galapagos for the first time.” (1)
“The lands, submerged lands, waters, and marine environment around Rose Atoll support a dynamic reef ecosystem that is home to a very diverse assemblage of terrestrial and marine species, many of which are threatened or endangered.” More from NOAA:
- “The marine area provides isolated, unmolested nesting grounds for green and hawksbill turtles and has the largest number of nesting turtles in American Samoa.
- Its waters are frequented by numerous large predators: whitetip reef sharks, blacktip reef sharks, gray reef sharks, snappers, jacks, groupers, and barracudas.
- Species that have faced depletion elsewhere, some of which have declined worldwide by as much as 98 percent, are found in abundance at Rose Atoll, including giant clams, Maori wrasse, large parrotfishes, and blacktip, whitetip, and gray reef sharks. Humpback whales, pilot whales, and the porpoise genus Stenella have all been spotted at Rose Atoll.
- There are 272 species of reef fish, with seven species first described by scientists at Rose and dozens more new species discovered on the first deep water dive to 200 meters. Recent submersible dives around Rose Atoll have revealed abundant marine life, deep sea coral forests, and several new fish and invertebrate species.
- Rose Atoll supports most of the seabird population of American Samoa, including 12 federally protected migratory seabirds, five species of federally protected shorebirds, and a migrant forest bird, the long-tailed cuckoo.
- Rare species of nesting petrels, shearwaters, and terns are thriving at Rose Atoll and increasing in number. The atoll is known to Samoans, who have periodically visited over the past millennium, as “Nu’u O Manu” (“Village of seabirds”).“ (2) (3)
Trump wants to undo the monument and succumb to his own willful ignorance and disregard, short-sighted political leaders in the region as well and the pressure of fisherman in the area who are impacted by the restrictions. 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. If fishing stocks are depleted and the marine environment that supports their recovery is destroyed, there will be no fish, no life for anyone.
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 neighbors. 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. (4) 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.” (5)
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! (6) 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 (7), and a 2016 UN analysis found nearly 90% of global fish stocks are either depleted or over-fished. (8)
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.
Today less than 2% of marine systems are protected. The Rose Atoll 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.
- Bush Declares Marine Preserves In Pacific
- Rose Atoll Designated a Marine National Monument
- Three Pacific Marine Protected Areas, Marine National Monuments, Established
- NOAA’s report on U.S. ocean and Great Lakes economy shows growth
- Trump’s Executive Orders Ignore The Ocean’s ‘Blue Economy’
- Just How Little Do We Know about the Ocean Floor?
- Global Fish Stocks Depleted to ‘Alarming’ Levels
- 2016 State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture
Photo: Coraline Algae at Rose Atoll Marine National Monument. Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center.