The islands, atolls, and seamounts that would be conserved are remote. But they may also represent unique opportunities for research. In addition to its reefs, a northern Marianas reserve would include a section of the Marianas Trench, formed by the collision of two plates of the Earth’s crust and home to the deepest spot on the seafloor. The area hosts 19 species of whales and dolphins. Life thrives in the extreme environments around hydrothermal vents. The seascape includes enormous mud volcanoes and pools of boiling sulfurThis is the kind of stuff we could be using to rebrand our islands. Imagine if we had a visitors center similar to the Sant Ocean Hall, but tailored to our unique culture, biology and geology.
The article also discusses some of the local concerns.
Meanwhile, locals have expressed concerns that restrictions will be too tight. Indigenous people in American Samoa and the Marianas were concerned they would be banned from fishing and other traditional practices. There are other worries about Washington impinging on undersea mining projects for minerals on the seafloor off the Marianas Trench. These local concerns are being addressed, says James Connaughton, head of the president’s Council on Environmental Quality.This kind of stuff in the international media puts to rest the argument that this is being done without local input.
One concern shared by local fishermen and US Pentagon officials centered on navigation rights through any proposed reserve, particularly around the Marianas. But the president’s directive to assess the potential marine reserve sites reaffirmed these navigation rights.
Click here to read the entire article.