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Process to designate a new national marine sanctuary in the Pacific Remote Islands gets underway

Pacific Island leaders are applauding NOAA’s (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) announcement that it will begin the process to potentially designate a new national marine sanctuary in the Pacific Remote Islands (PRI) area. The announcement signals an opportunity for the public to weigh in on the proposed designation in-person, virtually, online, or by mail. The public is invited to submit comments in person, online, or via mail until June 2, 2023.

Learn more about the designation process on NOAA’s website


Help support and spread awareness about the possible designation of the Pacific Remote Islands as a National Marine Sanctuary.

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Here’s how you can leave a comment in support of the sanctuary designation.

Attend a public meeting in person or virtually. See the schedule below.

Submit a Comment via this Petition


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Comments can be mailed and must be postmarked by June 2, 2023 to:

PRI-Proposed Sanctuary, NOAA/ONMS
c/o Hoku Kaaekuahiwi Pousima
76 Kamehameha Ave.
Hilo, HI 96720

President Joseph Biden, Jr. announced his support for increased protections for the PRI and surrounding waters and directed the Department of Commerce to consider the national marine sanctuary process for the area on March 24, 2023. The proposed sanctuary would encompass the existing Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument and extend to the full limit of the Exclusive Economic Zone (200 nautical miles) around Howland and Baker Islands and Kingman Reef and Palmyra Atoll. The designation would conserve about 770,000 square miles—creating the world’s largest highly protected marine protected area. In addition to the critical added protection protections, the coalition is also requesting honoring the service, sacrifice, and significance of the Hui Panalāʻau from 1935-1942 and co- management to ensure that Indigenous Pacific Islanders are part of the decision-making process.

Proposed Pacific Remote Islands National Marine Sanctuary. Credit: NOAA

The Pacific Remote Islands Coalition, which submitted the nomination, has spent a decade advocating for protection of PRI. In addition to critical added protections, the coalition is also requesting renaming the area through a culturally appropriate process that honors the cultural, historic, and ancestral significance of the region.

Said William Aila, a Pacific Remote Islands Coalition member, Native Hawaiian fisherman, and retired public servant:

The proposed sanctuary designation allows us to recognize, share, and celebrate the deep connections Indigenous Pacific Islanders have to the area and give us a seat at the table to be part of the decision- making, renaming, and the future of this area that means so much to our people. We are excited to see this process move forward and want to mahalo the Biden-Harris Administration, the Department of Commerce, Hawaiʻi’s Congressional Delegation, and Governor Josh Green for recognizing and appreciating the unique cultural, ecological, and scientific significance of the Pacific Remote Islands and giving this effort the momentum and support it needs and deserves.

The public is invited to comment on the proposed sanctuary designation through June 2, 2023. NOAA will hold in-person public meetings in Hawai’i and across the Pacific to gather input on:

  • Boundaries
  • Compatible uses
  • Threats a new sanctuary would address
  • How best to promote marine science and education

The meetings are scheduled as follows:





  • May 19, 2023: Rota, MP
    • 2:00pm – 4:00pm (ChST)
    • Office of the Mayor of Rota, San Francisco de Borja Highway, Tatachog, Rota, MP 96951
    • In person only, no virtual participation


  • May 20, 2023: Tinian, MP
    • 2:00pm – 4:00pm (ChST)
    • Tinian Public Library, San Jose Village, Tinian, MP 96952
    • In person only, no virtual participation


Additional Virtual Public Scoping Meetings Added!

May 25, 5-7 p.m. (HST), 4-6 p.m. (SST)
May 26, 3-5 p.m. (MHT), 1-2 p.m. (CHUT, ChST), 2-4 p.m. (PONT, KOST) NOON-2 p.m. (PWT)

Registration URL:

May 31, 9-11 p.m. (HST), 8-10 p.m. (SST)
June 1, 7-9 p.m. (MHT), 5-7 p.m. (CHUT, ChST), 6-8 p.m. (PONT, KOST), 4-6 p.m. (PWT)
Registration URL:

Time zones: Hawaii (HST), American Samoa (SST), Republic of the Marshall Islands (MHT), Federated States of Micronesia (CHUT, PONT, KOST), Guam, CNMI (ChST), Palau (PWT).

For more information on the Pacific Remote Islands, the sanctuary designation process, and public meetings, see the NOAA National Marine Sanctuary website here.

PRI Coalition Members in the News

May 4, 2023
Pacific Pulse: Protect PRI Coalition works to increase protections for Pacific Remote Islands


April 26, 2023
PRI Coalition members William J. Alia, Jr. and Jonee Peters joined Honolulu Star-Advertiser’s Spotlight Hawai‘i LIVE. Watch the replay below.

Members of the public throughout Hawai‘i and the Pacific share their voice during public comment meetings held by NOAA in May 2023.

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