In April, President Trump instructed the Department of Interior to review the Pacific Remote Islands’ national monument designation. On Aug 24th, according to a leaked copy of his report, Secretary Zinke recommended erasing protections: opening the ocean sanctuary to industrial-scale commercial fishing and leaving open the possibility of shrinking the monument.
Location: Pacific Ocean
Established: January 6, 2009
What are the Pacific Remote Islands known for?
"The Monument is an important part of the most widespread collection of marine- and terrestrial-life protected areas on the planet, sustaining many endemic species including corals, fish, shellfish, marine mammals, seabirds, water birds, land birds, insects, and vegetation not found elsewhere. . . The islands of Jarvis, Howland, and Baker were also the location of notable bravery and sacrifice by a small number of voluntary Hawaiian colonists, known as Hui Panalāʽau, who occupied the islands from 1935 to 1942 to help secure the U.S. territorial claim over the islands." (Proclamation)
Why are the Pacific Remote Islands Threatened?
- Industrial fishing: Catching more fish than can be replaced puts both global food sources and the marine life itself at risk. National Geographic wrote “A study of catch data published in 2006 in the journal Science grimly predicted that if fishing rates continue apace, all the world's fisheries will have collapsed by the year 2048.” Marine monuments provide an critical place for fish populations to recover.
What can we do?Pacific states’ U.S. Senators need to stand up and champion the protection of the Pacific Remote Islands.
Learn more about the Pacific Remote Islands
Fish populations are abundant and support at least 323 species, including large populations of the Napoleon wrasse (Chelinus), sharks of several species, and large schools of the Bumphead parrotfish (Bolbometapon), all of which are globally depleted." "Estimates are that 15 to 44 percent of the species on a seamount or seamount group are found nowhere else on Earth. Roughly 5 to 10 percent of invertebrates found on each survey of a seamount are new to science. Some seamounts have pools of undiscovered species.
(Proclamation; PhotoCredit: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration via public domain)
Baker, Howland, and Jarvis Islands were first formed as fringing reefs around islands formed by Cretaceous-era volcanoes (approximately 120-75 million years ago). As the volcanoes subsided, the coral reefs grew upward, maintaining proximity to the sea surface. These low coral islands consist of coral rock, shells, and sand that support trees, shrubs, and grasses adapted to the arid climate at the equator. All three are surrounded by shallow coral reefs to depths of 100 meters, below which the reef slope descends steeply to great depths. Deep coral forests occur below photic zones of all three islands at depths below 200 meters, especially at Jarvis where surveys have revealed living colonies of precious and ancient gold coral up to 5,000 years old.
(Proclamation; PhotoCredit: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services via Flickr, CC BY 2.0)