The position of the Friends on submerged lands and co-management remain as they have been since our Vision letter was published in October 2008. The letter reaffirms the position of the Friends of the Monument and was written after consultation with the governor and members of his administration. We have found that our position is similar to the position of the administration (at least on two of three issues) and are happy to work together with them.
Friends of the Monument
PO BOX 500921
Saipan, MP 96950
June 23, 2009
Representative Greg Camacho Sablan
423 Cannon House Office Building
United States House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515
Re: Marianas Trench Marine National Monument
Hafa Adai Delegate Sablan,
This letter is a follow-up to the letter we sent you dated April 17, 2009. In that letter we requested for “the state waters from 0-3 miles surrounding the islands of Uracas, Maug, and Asuncion (to) remain a part of the monument, under the jurisdiction (and ownership) of the Commonwealth and co-managed with the rest of the monument by the Commonwealth and the Departments of Commerce and Interior.”
This was our stance before the declaration of the monument and it is our stance today.
Many promises made by the former Council on Environmental Quality Chairman James Connaughton in the lead up to creation of the monument have been kept. The Commonwealth has received untold amounts of positive media exposure. There is a renewed world-wide interest in exploring the depths of the deepest, darkest place on Earth, as evidenced by the recent expedition by Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute to the bottom of Challenger Deep, only the third such expedition in the history of mankind. The Northern Marianas are also now recognized as the home to one of the most iconic, recognizable geological features on the planet, adding to the richness of our culture and heritage. The creation of the monument will have everlasting positive effects on our economy and the health of our marine environment and will help preserve our unique culture. It has also brought the Commonwealth closer to achieving the goals of the Micronesia Challenge, which seeks to effectively conserve 30% of the near shore resources of all the islands in Micronesia. Most importantly, in the span of just a few months our people have become worldwide leaders in ocean conservation. Perhaps you saw the Friends of the Monument on NBC Nightly News during Earth Week?
Sadly, several promises remain unfulfilled. During his visit to the Commonwealth in October 2008, Chairman Connaughton promised the people of the Commonwealth that the designation of the monument would give our people (1) co-management of the monument, (2) a visitors center on Saipan, and (3) control of the submerged lands from 0-3 miles around the 14 islands of the Commonwealth.
We remain committed to fulfilling these promises, starting with the control of the submerged lands around all the islands of the Commonwealth. Just so that we are clear, it is our recommendation that “the state waters from 0-3 miles surrounding the islands of Uracas, Maug, and Asuncion remain a part of the monument, under the jurisdiction (and ownership) of the Commonwealth and co-managed with the rest of the monument by the Commonwealth and the Departments of Commerce and Interior.”
Thank you for taking the time to listen to our concerns. Your staff has been very gracious in allowing us time to share our recommendations and concerns for the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument.
And on a final note, on behalf of the entire Friends of the Monument organization, thank you for the recent Congressional Commendation. It is quite an honor to be one of the first organizations in the Northern Mariana Islands to be so recognized by the United States Congress.
Thank you and I look forward to your reply,
Ignacio V. Cabrera
Friends of the Monument
cc: Governor Benigno Fitial