This week President Trump announced the greatest rollback of protected public lands of any Administration in US history. Stripping back protected National Monuments at the Bear’s Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments in Utah have opened millions of acres to mining and drilling. Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke’s final recommendations to the President released this week also place our biodiverse and pristine marine national monuments on the chopping block. The President has acted to dismantle monuments established under three previous presidents, including monumental marine protections established under Republican President GW Bush. Interior Secretary’ Ryan Zinke’s revised final report to the president recommend reducing the protected area of the Pacific Remote Islands, Rose Atoll and the Atlantic Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monuments.
Please write or call the President asking him not to open our Marine National Monuments to remove protections from commercial fishing and other extractive activities.
Established in 1906 by President Theodore Roosevelt to protect our national wilderness and cultural treasures, the Antiquities Act has been used to protect such places as the Grand Canyon, the Statue of Liberty and the Muir Woods National Monument. The Act has been used 157 times by 16 Presidents from both the republican and democratic parties equally to protect national areas from special interests and is instrumental in the formation of our National Parks System.
On January 6, 2009, President George W. Bush established the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument under the authority of the Antiquities Act. These monuments are part of the US Fish and Wildlife Refuge system and protect some of the healthiest reefs, fish and nesting habitat in American waters. Included were the Rose Atoll NMM off Samoa and the Marianas Trench, the deepest place in the ocean.
A memo leaked in September revealed that Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, recommended that the president of the United States reduce the size of four national monuments and allow changes to management priorities to possibly pursue oil and gas exploration, mining, timber harvesting, and commercial fishing in at least 10 of our national monuments. The memo mentions 10 Monuments the Department of the Interior could shrink or exploit as part of these recommendations. The final document has been released recommending reduction and change of management for the PRI and Rose Atoll.
The PRI monument incorporated approximately 86,888 square miles within its boundaries, which extend 50 nautical miles from the mean low water lines of Howland, Baker, and Jarvis Islands; Johnston, Wake, and Palmyra Atolls; and Kingman Reef (maps) under President Bush. On September 25, 2014, the Obama Administration expanded the monument to 490,300 square miles, the world’s largest marine protected areas next to the Papahanumokuakea and now, as of December 1, 2017 the Ross Sea off Antarctica. Located in the northwest Hawaiian Islands, the Papahanaumokuakea was the first US Marine National Monument and is also under scrutiny by the Secretary of Interior.
Located in the Central Pacific Ocean, these seven islands and atolls host a large abundance and diversity of marine and terrestrial life, including corals, fish, marine mammals, birds, insects and native plants not found anywhere else. Marine reserves do not allow fishing are some of the most effective tools for improving ocean ecosystems and protecting threatened fish species and can increase the number, size and diversity of fish and other marine animals in regions outside the reserve. Maintaining marine protections at the Pacific Remote Islands and the Papahanumokuakea can help ensure robust, sustainable marine wildlife populations that not only benefit the monument waters, but the waters and Pacific peoples of the surrounding region.