Monday, April 25, 2011

Saipan: Opportunit​y to Visit NOAA Research Ship

An opportunity has arisen to visit the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) research ship (the Hi'ialakai) on Thursday of this week (the 28th).

The Hawaii based vessel has been conducting research around the Marianas (including the northern islands) over the last month with both off-island and local scientists. The ship will be returning to Saipan this Wednesday and is offering students and the general public an opportunity to tour the ship and talk with the scientists conducting the research.

If you are interested in coming out please either email Aric Bickel or Ranger Nancy Kelchner at American Memorial Park to reserve your spot, as there are only so many people the boat can handle. Visitation hours on Thursday for students are between 12 and 2:00pm and between 3 and 4:00pm for the general public. Those coming out (and others interested) are asked to visit the vessels website  to familiarize themselves with the work being done and get an idea of which scientists they would like the speak with/what questions they would like to ask.

This is a great opportunity to get a first hand look at some of the research that is being done at the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument. Feel free to contact Aric with your questions!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Planning Begins for Management of the Marianas Trench and Pacific Remote Islands

Federal officials from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the NOAA Fisheries Service are soliciting information, ideas, suggestions and concerns related to the development of management plans for the Marianas Trench and Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monuments. These management plans will guide management of these two unique marine national monuments for the next 15 years.

The Marianas Trench Marine National Monument in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and the Pacific Remote Islands National Monument were created in January 2009 by President George W. Bush under the authority of the Antiquities Act of 1906. Together, the two monuments include more than 182,000 square miles of ocean, coral reefs, submerged lands, islands and atolls and represent some of the most remote and pristine marine areas on Earth.

The Marianas Trench Marine National Monument consists of 95,216 square miles within three units: the Marianas Trench Unit, which is 1,100 miles long, 44 miles wide and includes only the submerged lands; the Volcanic Unit, which consists of circles (1 nautical mile radius) around 21 undersea mud volcanoes and thermal vents along the Mariana Arc and again, includes only the submerged lands; and the Islands Unit, which includes only the waters and submerged lands of the three northernmost Mariana Islands: Farallon de Pajaros or Uracas, Maug, and Asuncion. The Marianas Trench Unit and the Volcanic Unit are also managed as units of the National Wildlife Refuge System.

The Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument spans 86,888 square miles and also incorporates seven national wildlife refuges: Baker Island, Howland Island, Jarvis Island, Johnston Atoll, Kingman Reef, Palmyra Atoll and Wake Atoll.

Public comments will be accepted until July 31, 2011. [Emphasis Added] Opportunities for additional public input will be announced throughout the planning process and public meetings may be scheduled [Emphasis Added] to help share information and obtain comments. Once draft plans are completed they will be released for additional public review and comment before being finalized. The plans will be revised every 15 years and will be reviewed annually.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Atmospheric and Oceanic Administration are cooperating in the development of the plans and will carry out their designated management roles under their respective authorities.

While other topics will likely be identified during public scoping, the following are among the preliminary issues that may be addressed during the development of draft management plans:
  • Climate change impacts and adaptation
  • Marine debris impacts and removal
  • Invasive species prevention and control
  • Other potential threats to the ecosystem (e.g. trespass; illegal fishing and shipwrecks, groundings and spills)
  • Emergency response to natural and manmade disasters and natural resources damage assessments
  • Habitat conservation and restoration
  • Historic and cultural resources
  • Public education and outreach
  • Scientific exploration and research opportunities
  • Developing an appropriate permitting program for activities within the monuments.

More information is included in two Notices of Intent to develop management plans published in the Federal Register on April 5, 2011.

For the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument, please send written comments or requests for more information by any of the following methods:
  • Email:
  • Fax: 808-973-2941
  • Mail: Heidi Hirsh, NOAA Fisheries Service, 1601 Kapiolani Blvd., #1110, Honolulu, HI 96814

Additional information about the Monument and its two refuges is available at and

For the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument, please send your written comments or requests for more information by any of the following methods:
  • Email:
  • Fax: 808-792-9586
  • Mail: Susan White, Project Leader, Pacific Reefs National Wildlife Refuge Complex, 300 Ala Moana Blvd., Room 5-231, Honolulu, HI 96850
 Additional information about the Monument and its seven refuge units is available at and  
The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit

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(PR - April 6, 2011: NMFS, NOAA, DOI, FWS)