On Tuesday, March 21, President Biden announced that the Administration will increase protections to the Pacific Remote Islands by advancing the designation of a new National Marine Sanctuary. In response to the announcement, Maite Arce, president and CEO of Hispanic Access Foundation, released the following statement:
“We applaud President Biden for announcing the first-ever US Ocean Climate Action Plan and the administration’s commitment to increasing protections for the Pacific Remote Islands. This would be key to protecting and preserving the ecological diverse marine environment that is both culturally and historically significant.
“This unique group of islands is home to some of the last wild and healthy ocean ecosystems on our planet. In addition, the land and sea hold rich history, from ancient Polynesian voyaging, to the efforts of the Hui Panalāʻau, to the Pacific theater of WWII. By expanding this protected area - currently threatened by risks such as deep-sea mining - we hope to preserve and protect wildlife, history, and cultural practice for generations to come.
“The current Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument was established in 2009 by President Bush and includes several reefs, islands, and atolls. In 2014, President Obama partially expanded, but not in all areas. We are asking President Biden to protect the remaining areas and incorporate co-management by Indigenous Pacific Islanders and Indigenous ecological knowledge in stewardship plans. We also ask the administration to give this special place a new name that better reflects its identity, individuality, and importance, with Pacific Islanders engaged in the process.”
In May 2022, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Island Indigenous leaders sent a letter to President Biden requesting an expansion and renaming of the current Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument. Hispanic Access Foundation included the Pacific Remote Islands in their 2022 “National Landmarks We Need to Protect” toolkit. To learn more or get involved, visit https://www.protectpri.com.