Friday, July 12, 2024

NOAA Takes One Step Closer to Designating National Marine Sanctuary Off Hawaii


The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has released draft designation documents proposing a national marine sanctuary in the marine portions of Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument off Hawaii.

According to NOAA:

“This action comes after the agency conducted a thorough analysis and evaluated feedback from the public, stakeholders, Native Hawaiian communities, scientists, and federal and state agencies.”

NOAA continues:

“The proposed sanctuary is a place of unique environmental resources that provide large-scale ecosystem services for the region and the world. The marine habitat includes several interconnected ecosystems, including coral islands surrounded by shallow reefs (down to 100 feet [30m), low-light mesophotic reefs (100 to 490 feet [30m to 149m]) with extensive algal beds, open ocean (pelagic) waters connected to the greater North Pacific Ocean, deep-water habitats such as abyssal plains 16,400 feet [4,999m] below sea level, and deep reef habitat characterized by seamounts, banks, and shoals.”

Joel Johnson, president and CEO of the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation, praised the move:

“Papahanaumokuakea is a crown jewel of our ocean recognized by UNESCO for its cultural and natural wonders. Uniquely meaningful and sacred to Native Hawaiian culture, it’s also incredibly rich in biodiversity. Even as a marine monument, Papahanaumokuakea’s ecosystem and its biodiversity are under threat from marine debris and a changing climate. That’s why it deserves the utmost protection our laws can provide.

“National marine sanctuaries are our best tool to highly-protect places such as Papahanaumokuakea. Sanctuary status offers a durable layer of protection that goes beyond that of national monuments, thanks to the comprehensive sanctuary designation and inclusive management of Native Hawaiians. As a national marine sanctuary, we can be assured that Papahanaumokuakea will remain a place that inspires the world and is a lasting source of solutions against the climate change and biodiversity loss.

“We fully support the designation of Papahanaumokuakea as a national marine sanctuary to safeguard its wonders for the people and wildlife who depend on it, and we thank NOAA and the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries for committing to its protection.”

For more info about the proposed sanctuary, go to

John Liang
John Liang
John Liang is the News Editor at He first got the diving bug while in High School in Cairo, Egypt, where he earned his PADI Open Water Diver certification in the Red Sea off the Sinai Peninsula. Since then, John has dived in a volcanic lake in Guatemala, among white-tipped sharks off the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica, and other places including a pool in Las Vegas helping to break the world record for the largest underwater press conference.