Protect the Pacific Remote Islands

Protect the Pacific Remote Islands

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Kolomona Kaho'ohalahala started this petition

In the central Pacific Ocean lies one of the last wild and healthy marine ecosystems on this planet with reef sharks, giant clams, hundreds of species of coral, and deep-sea life found nowhere else on Earth.  

My name is Kolomona Kaho’ohalahala, a seventh generation native Hawaiian descendent from the small island of Lānaʻi. I am writing to you on behalf of our Pacific Remote Islands (PRI) Coalition which includes elders, fishers, educators, cultural practitioners, non-profits, community groups, scientists, and many others across the Pacific and beyond. 

We understand how important it is to preserve the health of land and seas for the generations that will follow us. We know that we need to protect places abundant with life so that they may continue to be a refugia in the face of climate change and other threats. It’s a unique blessing that such places still exist today.  Our hope is that our collective effort to ask President Biden to expand the protections for the Pacific Remote Islands will support the health of these islands and atolls in perpetuity. 

Deep-sea mining interests have identified PRI’s waters as a high value, and therefore high interest area. Deep-sea mining involves heavy-duty machinery that completely removes the top layer of sediment, resulting in total mortality of deep-sea benthic organisms and the creation of toxic wastewater tailings with widespread impacts. Protecting this area now will ensure that this scenario will not occur. 

As stopping points for resources, temporary shelter, and cultural practice, the islands of PRI have a deep legacy of voyaging and the potential to perpetuate its practice into the future. Teaching and practicing traditional voyaging require seascapes like those of PRI – low-lying islands within intact oceanic ecosystems. Protecting PRI not only honors and preserves the history of its lands, waters, and the people who crossed them, but allows for continued exploration, discovery, and perpetuation of culture. 

As Pacific Island peoples, the ocean has always held a special place for us as the source from where life begins. We have a profound duty and privilege to mālama — care for — these precious places that give life. We ask for your support in this effort. 

Please join me in signing the petition to urge President Biden to support the health of our ocean and Pacific communities, by expanding protections for the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument for Palmyra Atoll, Kingman Reef, and Howland and Baker Island to the full extent of the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone. We also ask that President Biden support a process to rename the area to reflect its cultural and historic significance, and to engage Indigenous communities in a new form of co-management that spans the Pacific region, bringing culture, communities, and people together around a shared history and future.   

Go to www.ProtectPRI.com to learn more.

(Photo Credit: Left to Right, Top to Bottom - Schmidt Ocean Institute R/V Falkor / TNC Kydd Pollock / Laura Beauregard USFWS / Shawn Heinrichs / TNC Kydd Pollock)

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