Expand protections for the Pacific Remote Islands
Current & Proposed Protections
The Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument (PRIMNM) encompasses five management units: Wake Island, Johnston Atoll, Palmyra Atoll and Kingman Reef, Howland and Baker Islands, and Jarvis Island. In 2009 President George W. Bush established the monument, with protection to 50 nautical miles around each site. In 2014, President Barack Obama expanded three of these five management units (Wake, Johnston and Jarvis) to 200 nautical miles (or the edge of the U.S. EEZ waters). The monument waters are permanently closed to resource extraction, such as deep-sea mining and commercial fishing, and open to limited amounts of permitted recreational fishing.
When President Obama expanded protection for PRIMNM in 2014, the original 50 nautical mile boundary remained in place at two management units (Palmyra Atoll and Kingman Reef, and Howland and Baker Island), leaving the majority of the waters in the EEZ around these sites open to future exploitation. Nearly a decade later, we know much more about the importance of these areas to the health and resilience of the coral reef and island communities in the monument and the important ecological and cultural value of the area. President Biden has the opportunity to provide additional protection, honor Indigenous cultures and practices, bolster the resilience of these important ocean ecosystems in the face of climate change, and protect marine biodiversity from threats poised to grow in the future, including deep sea mining.
Renaming the Monument
Along with expanding protections for the Pacific Remote Islands, we are asking to honor the area’s unique history and cultural significance with a new name. As Pacific Islanders, we believe that place names are an important way to preserve information about an area’s geology, its history, the natural and supernatural phenomenon specific to it, or its uses by gods and men. We urge the administration to ensure Pacific Islanders are engaged in the process to give this area a name that better reflects its identity, individuality, and importance.
We believe that the Pacific Remote Islands will have the greatest protection when Pacific Island communities are properly represented at the highest levels of the management and decision-making process. As an example, Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument (PMNM), which is jointly administered by four co-trustees that includes the Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA), has been instrumental in establishing avenues for Indigenous communities to participate in ongoing management actions. In that spirit, we are asking that the administration consider a similar resource management structure for the Pacific Remote Islands so that traditional ecological knowledge and modern science can be at the forefront of ongoing and future protections for the Pacific.
An 84-page report by 18 co-authors outlining the cultural and biological significance of the proposed expansion.
April 17, 2023
NOAA's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries issued a Notice of Intent to Conduct Scoping and to Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement for the Proposed Designation of a National Marine Sanctuary for the Pacific Remote Islands, launching the designation process.
May 31, 2022
PRI Coalition sends President Biden a letter asking to expand the boundaries around Kingman Reef and Palmyra Atoll, and Howland and Baker Island to 200 nautical miles and to honor the area with a new name.
Frequently Asked Questions
- 50+ seabird species
- 15 endangered/vulnerable shark and ray species
- 20 dolphin and whale species
- 5 turtle species (4 endangered)
- Ancient deep-sea corals and resilient shallow reefs
- Deep sea species found nowhere else on earth