- Wilbur RossUnited States Secretary of Commerce
Protect Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument from Commercial Interests
My name is Sol Kaho‘ohalahala and I’m writing to you on behalf of thousands of Native Hawaiians, community leaders, conservationists, and many others across our state who want to maintain the current protections for Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument.
Imagine, for a moment, a place where vibrant coral reefs extend across the ocean floor, and 7,000 marine species—from green sea turtles to blue whales, the largest creatures on earth—roam the sea. A place where 14 million seabirds of 22 species nest and breed their young. A place considered sacred to Native Hawaiians, where we believe all life began, and to which spirits return after death.
More than 10 years ago, Papahānaumokuākea was designated as the first Marine National Monument, and last year, President Obama expanded the area, further protecting this incredible ecosystem.
Now, President Trump has called for a review of these protections. If we don’t make our voices heard, the administration could allow deep-sea mining, commercial fishing and other harmful industrial practices—all for private gain.
At a time when only 3% of the ocean is protected, Papahānaumokuākea stands as a beacon of hope, a refuge for wildlife and a place of cultural importance for the Hawaiian people.
Please join me and thousands of others across Hawai‘i to voice your support for the continued protections of Papahānaumokuākea.
- United States Secretary of Commerce
I write to urge you to maintain the current boundaries and protections for Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. The potential benefit of energy and mineral exploration and production is more than offset by the risk of significant negative environmental impact, the astronomical capital investment costs, and the remoteness of the monuments.
The monument protects sensitive deep-sea ecosystems including hundreds of seamounts (underwater mountains) and hydrothermal vents that support some of the most ecologically interesting communities known to science. Deep sea mining poses severe environmental consequences including directly impacting these benthic ecosystems resulting in a loss of biodiversity. Scientists are also concerned about broader effects including sediment plumes, which can spread over vast areas smothering seabed habitat, the acoustic impacts to wildlife, especially to marine mammals, and damage from machinery leaks or malfunctions.
The Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument is the strongest policy available for protecting the area’s rich abundance of marine life and a place of cultural and historic value. The designation and expansion of the Monument underwent a robust public process and garnered support at the Federal and State levels, and intimately included the Native Hawaiian community.
Please maintain the monument’s boundaries as they are today. Do not jeopardize this unique ecosystem for energy or mineral production, which comes with extreme risk and high cost.
Thank you for your consideration.
Please accept this letter as an official public comment for Docket No. NOAA-NOS-2017-0066.
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