Saturday, July 20, 2024

Pacific Remote Islands On Track To Become A New National Marine Sanctuary


The US government this week announced it has begun the process to consider designating the waters surrounding the Pacific Remote Islands as a national marine sanctuary.

According to a White House fact sheet issued March 21st:

“The President will direct the Secretary of Commerce to consider initiating a new National Marine Sanctuary designation within the next 30 days to protect all U.S. waters around the Pacific Remote Islands. If completed, the new sanctuary would ensure the U.S. will reach the President’s goal of conserving at least 30% of ocean waters under American jurisdiction by 2030.”

The proposed sanctuary would help preserve about 770,000 square miles/2 million square kilometers “including the existing Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument and currently unprotected submerged lands and waters. The region has a rich ancestral tie to many Native Hawaiian and Pacific Island communities.”

The government also wants to look into ways of renaming the existing Pacific Remote Islands National Monument — and even the islands themselves — “to honor the area’s heritage, ancestral pathways, and stopping points for Pacific Island voyagers, and to provide posthumous recognition for young Native Hawaiian men sent to secure U.S. territorial claim to the islands in the run up to World War II.”

The announcement was praised by National Marine Sanctuary Foundation Vice President of External Affairs Shannon Colbert:

“The waters surrounding the Pacific Remote Islands contain a multitude of natural and cultural wonders across nearly 500,000 square miles of breathtaking beauty above and below the surface.

“We are pleased the Biden Administration is listening to the Indigenous, Native Hawaiian, and local communities that are calling for protection of this special place as part of the National Marine Sanctuary System. Sanctuary designation would protect sites that are important to the preservation and prosperity of Indigenous cultures as well as habitat for threatened and endangered species including sharks, turtles, seabirds, whales, manta rays, and more. Some endemic species in these waters are found nowhere else on Earth.”

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.