Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Thank You, Rota

Photo credit: NOAA Okeanos Explorer
Members of the Rota Legislative Delegation have introduced a resolution asking President Obama to initiate a marine sanctuary process that will strengthen protections for the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument.

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.”
 

Monday, November 28, 2016

Marianas Trench Sanctuary

My last post, the one about the ukulele chords for the CNMI Anthem, has received 212 viewers in the last month.  Somebody still reads this blog.

There is a story in the Marianas Variety today regarding the Marianas Trench.  I've noticed that over the years the archives of the local Saipan newspapers tend to get deleted, so I'm posting it here in its entirety, both for your reading pleasure and posterity's sake:
Rota lawmakers ask US to designate marine sanctuary process for Marianas Trench monument

MEMBERS of the Rota Legislative Delegation have introduced a resolution asking the U.S. to develop a marine sanctuary process that will strengthen protections for the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument.

Signed by Rep. Glenn Maratita, Sens. Teresita Santos, Paul Manglona, Steve Mesngon, Rota Legislative Delegation Commemorative Resolution 19-10 states that the monument, which was created by President George Bush in Jan. 2009, provides permanent protection for approximately 95,216 square miles of submerged lands, waters and deep sea in the Pacific Ocean.

The Marianas waters have been scientifically determined to be the single greatest marine priority for conservation in U.S. waters, the resolution says, adding that the threat of climate change makes protection of the monument a priority for the CNMI.

According to the resolution, the monument’s protection would benefit Northern Marianas residents who rely upon an intact and preserved marine ecosystem for cultural uses such as ocean voyaging.

“The president of the United States has been asked to initiate a marine sanctuary designation by Gov. Ralph Torres and Delegate Gregorio Camacho Kilili Sablan. [But] the existing management structure of the Mariana Trench Marine Monument does not prioritize educational programs and a visitor center….

“The Rota Legislative Delegation respectfully requests that sanctuary management plans include and highlight research, education, enforcement and visitor center elements particularly on the island of Rota.”
It looks like I'll be blogging about the Marianas Trench a little more often in the coming months.  Seeing as this is only my 19th post this year, I bet you can't wait!

In the meantime, I encourage you to watch and share this video of the 20 minute poster session for the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument from the IUCN Congress in Honolulu, Hawaii back in September.  It features several speakers from the federal management of the monument, and I give a three minute talk on the culture of the monument.  I'm the third speaker, starting at about the 7 minute mark: