Friday, January 09, 2009

Local Media

governor benigno fitial and the friends of the monumentThe Friends of the Monument met Governor Fitial in Washington, DC. He is to be applauded for supporting the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument. This monument is something that will have benefits in the short term and the long term. It is one of the best decisions he has made during his time in office.

The Saipan Tribune ran a story on Thursday about the Friends' initial reaction to the monument.
Friends of the Monument praises Bush

The Friends of the Monument, a coalition of indigenous and resident people of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands who support designation and protection of the important ocean resources along the Mariana Trench, applauded President Bush yesterday for declaring a Marianas Trench Marine National Monument at a ceremony in Washington, DC Tuesday.

The new marine monument will encompass 95,000 square miles of oceans surrounding the islands of Uracas, Maug and Asuncion, 21 hydrothermal volcanic vents and the entire stretch of the Marianas Trench.

Deputy Labor Secretary Cinta Kaipat, one of the monument's earliest supporters, said, “It's a great day for us all and for the world! I'm very proud of the team and everyone who worked so hard to make this happen.”

By the time of the designation, local support for the monument was near unanimous in the capital island of Saipan. In the eleventh hour, CNMI Gov. Benigno Fitial, Speaker of the House Arnold Palacios and Senate President Pete P Reyes joined the 6,000 petition signers, 206 businesses, and nearly 600 letter writers who asked President Bush to designate a monument in the Marianas.

Local environmentalist Ken Kramer, who quit his job with USDA to volunteer with the Friends of the Monument, had praise for the 60 volunteers and dozens of people who wrote supportive letters to the editor.

Kramer said, “Congratulations to everyone for a job well done. There was certainly a lot of blood, sweat and tears that went into the making of this monument. I am happy to be a part of this history making adventure to save the planet. We are all environmental superheroes.”

More information on the Friends of the Monument and the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument can be found at
The Saipan Tribune also ran a newswire story that quoted Ike. It is so gratifying knowing that this story and stories like it from the Associated Press, Reuters and Bloomberg were syndicated across the country and the world. This is from PRNewswire and like I mentioned, appeared in the Saipan Tribune:
The largest of the protected areas surrounds the Northern Mariana Islands and includes the Mariana Trench, the deepest canyon on earth.

The Mariana Islands monument alone protects 95,000 square miles, encompassing areas believed to harbor some of the oldest known life on the DNA tree. By itself, this monument is the third largest marine reserve in the world. Among its diverse and remarkable underwater features are the second known boiling pool of liquid sulfur (the first pool was discovered on Io, one of Jupiter’s moons); huge, active mud volcanoes-one more than 31 miles across; and highly acidic hydrothermal vents that provide a unique natural laboratory for the study of ocean acidification and its effects on coral reefs and shallow-water sea life.

A marine mammal survey in the area found 19 species, including several rare species of beaked whales. The land areas shelter the endangered Micronesian megapode, which is the only bird known to use volcanic heat to incubate its eggs, threatened fruit bats, more than a dozen species of migratory seabirds with breeding populations numbering over 200,000 and giant coconut crabs -- the largest land-living arthropod in the world.

For the past two years, the Pew Environment Group’s Global Ocean Legacy Program has worked with the Bush Administration as well as citizens and elected officials in the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas to promote the concept of a large-scale marine reserve in the waters surrounding the Mariana Islands. More than 200 local businesses and 6,000 citizens signed petitions supporting world-class marine monument designation.

In partnership with the islands’ business community and Friends of the Monument, a local organization promoting the Mariana Trench Marine National Monument, the Pew Environment Group helped organize more than 100 public meetings to vet the proposed monument in open forums. It also developed the first comprehensive scientific profile of the biological and geological resources contained within the proposed monument site, plus an assessment of the potential economic benefits of monument designation to the Marianas economy.

"We are proud that President Bush has recognized the importance and richness of the Mariana Island waters," said Ike Cabrera, chairman of the Saipan-based Friends of the Monument. "We can now share with the world this special place our people have long cherished."

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