Target: Barack Obama, President of the United States
Goal: Preserve the biodiversity, delicate ecosystems, and cultural history of the marine regions of the northwestern Hawaiian Islands.
The world’s oceans are places of great biodiversity that have only recently begun to be explored in depth. New species of marine life are constantly being discovered, with fascinating and unique ecological functions and possible uses to humans. Hotspots of marine biodiversity such as the northwestern Hawaiian Islands must be protected from human exploitation to preserve the natural beauty and value of the region.
When it was first established in 2006, the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument (PMNM) was the largest marine protected area in the U.S., covering nearly 140,000 square miles and home to over 7000 marine species. Over the last decade, the PMNM has gained a reputation for its stunning coral reefs and massive, record-breaking sponges, and in 2010 it was recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
As climate change has intensified, damaging marine ecosystems, the importance of the PMNM and other marine protected areas has been made clear.
A recent letter sent by Hawaiian Senator Brian Schatz and signed by over 1500 scientists urging President Obama to expand the PMNM by invoking the Antiquities Act of 1906 has not yet met with a response. The rate of coral reef degradation due to stress, ocean acidification, and ocean warming indicates that actions must be taken swiftly to preserve the biodiversity of the region.
The proposed expansion of the PMNM would extend the boundary of the protected zone from 50 miles to 200 miles, covering an area of nearly 600,000 square miles. This would make the PMNM the largest marine protected area in the world. Currently, only two percent of oceans worldwide are set aside as protected marine areas, and most protected areas are small and scattered. Recent assessments by scientists estimate that 30 percent of the world’s oceans must be designated protected areas in order to sustainably combat human exploitation. By protecting a large, continuous area, the expanded PMNM would be able to protect entire ecosystems and coral reef communities.
The proposed expansion of the PMNM would protect delicate coral reefs and endangered marine animals such as the Hawaiian monk seal and the Laysan duck. It would also preserve the ancient cultural value of the northwestern Hawaiian Islands by limiting outside human interference. President Obama must work quickly to expand the PMNM.
Dear President Obama,
The Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument (PMNM) is one of the nation’s largest and most ecologically important marine protected areas. Currently, the PMNM covers an area of the Pacific Ocean in the northwestern Hawaiian Islands, limiting human activities in these waters. The PMNM protects delicate coral reefs, sea turtles, sharks, tuna, and endangered species such as the Hawaiian monk seal and the Laysan duck, as well as countless undiscovered species.
As the dangers humans cause to our oceans becomes more pronounced, it is time to expand protected marine areas such as the PMNM. Increasing the area of the PMNM will preserve biodiversity, slow marine pollution and degradation by humans, and protect the cultural value of the region.
With the backing of over a thousand marine scientists, Hawaiian Senator Brian Schatz has proposed an expansion of the PMNM, a plan which now awaits presidential approval. As President, you can invoke the Antiquities Act of 1906 to swiftly enact environmental protections of at-risk areas, and you must use this power to expand the PMNM.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Greg McFall