|Photo credit: NOAA Okeanos Explorer|
The resolution also notes that the threat of climate change makes protection of the Marianas Trench a priority for the CNMI.
“We thank the Rota delegation and our other island leaders, especially our governor and U.S. congressman, for asking the president to start the sanctuary process,” said Ignacio V. Cabrera, chairman of the Friends of the Marianas Trench. “We believe in our leaders to start the process to help bring the benefits of a fully functional sanctuary to our islands. Since the monument was declared we’ve been waiting, and we believe the sanctuary program is a better fit for the needs of our community.”
The Marianas Trench is the “Grand Canyon” of the ocean, including the deepest known areas on earth. The active volcanoes and thermal vents found in the area support life under some of the harshest conditions on the planet. The waters of the archipelago’s northern islands are also among the most biologically diverse in the Western Pacific. The greatest diversity of seamount and hydrothermal vent life yet discovered on the planet has been found in the Marianas Trench.
U.S. Congressman Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan and Gov. Ralph Deleon Guerrero Torres wrote to President Obama in September 2016 asking to begin a sanctuary process in the Northern Mariana Islands.
“We hope that the next step is for a dialogue with the Obama administration,” said Senator Paul Manglona. “In the meantime we will continue to discuss this issue with our people.”