Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Monterey Bay Marine Sanctuary to get bigger

The video posted above has some information on the Davidson Seamount which will soon become a part of the Monterey Bay Marine Sanctuary. The LA Times has more on this exciting story.

Hopefully we'll be seeing a story similar to this concerning our Mariana Trench in the upcoming weeks.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Ike Cabrera

Ike Cabrera on the Mariana Trench Marine National Monument

Rita Sablan

Rita Sablan is the Commissioer of Education. She was interviewed after she watched a presentation on the Pacific Sanctuary Program by Allen Tom.

Ken Kramer

Ken Kramer explains the proposed boundaries for the Mariana Trench Marine National Monument. This video was produced by the Friends of the Monument.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

The Deep

This Youtube clip has video of some of the creatures found in the Mariana Trench

MEG the Movie

Illegal Fishing in the Marianas

Chinese long liners were recently captured in the area of the proposed Mariana Trench Marine National Monument. They were likely shark finning. An area within the proposed monument has been identified as having the highest density of sharks in the Pacific.

The Unnatural History of the Sea

The following was written by Ruth Tighe and published on 5/30/2008 on On My Mind.
I've just finished reading the most disturbing book I've read in a long, long time. The book, published in 2007, is The Unnatural History of the Sea by Callum Roberts, a professor of marine conservation. It begins with descriptions of seas so full of fish as to be almost unbelievable - mullet crowding the sides of a boat so thickly that they could be speared without letting go of the spear shaft (at Palmyra, 1798); sea cows (now extinct) at all seasons of the year in great numbers and in herds (the Bering Strait, 1741); runs of salmon, shad and whitefish numbering hundreds of thousands of individuals (in France, 300 AD); salmon and cod so thick by the shore that one could hardly row a boat through them (Newfoundland, 1620); lobsters, some as much as 20 pounds, so plentiful that they were seldom eaten, but were used as bait (New England, 1620s); seas that abound with whales, swordfish, porpoises, killer whales (Gulf of Maine, 1709); otters, beavers, fish so thick with their heads above water (Chesapeake Bay, 1612); sturgeon and shad in such prodigious numbers that within the space of two miles, fishermen caught above six hundred sturgeon with hooks in one day, and more than five thousand shad with a single haul of the net (Chesapeake Bay, 1614); banks of oysters so extensive that they were a hazard to navigation (Carolinas, 1709); turtles gathering in colossal numbers (Caribbean, 1697); a sea so thick with very large turtles that it seemed the ship would run aground on them (Cuba, 1600's); 18-20 foot sharks in great schools (Cocos Island, 1790's) - not just along one coast, but around the world; not just one species but all manner of species; not just one year, but over several centuries. And each and every description is carefully foot-noted with its source - a letter, a diary, a journal, documenting when it was written, and by whom. An incredible wealth that, unfortunately, no longer exists, anywhere......

Roberts also describes, in harrowing detail, the lengths to which fishermen, and the fishing industry as a whole, have gone over the past six centuries or so to capture this wealth. Not only has the fishing industry, having fished out near-by shores, been forced to go farther and farther afield to find fish - in early days, seeking new, unexplored areas; in more modern times, seeking out those places where restrictions have not yet been put in place (as is occurring even now) - but it has also had to go deeper and deeper into the ocean, as the marine life closer to the surface has been fished out, to where trawlers now literally scrape miles of ocean bottom of all coral, sea grass, rock formations and anything else that offers protection, a hiding place, to ocean dwellers, in the process sweeping up anything that moves in the search for fish. And the fisheries have had to be satisfied with smaller and smaller fish.

Modern technology adds to the "efficiency" of the fisheries industry in capturing what's left of the oceans living creatures - first with bigger and faster ships, larger and stronger nets, heavier and more efficient equipment, then with over-flying light planes and helicopters to sight distant schools of fish, and now with satellite positioning chips put into logs seeded around the ocean (logs are aggregating devices - fish gather under them for shade, attracting more and larger fish - enough, eventually, to make it a worthy catch).

The by-catch - the fish, turtles, dolphins not wanted that are snared by fishnets - only add to the slaughter, says Roberts.

The problem is not confined to the U.S. east coast, where the cod fishery is now dead, nor to the U.S. west coast, where even now a collapse of the salmon fishery is said to be imminent. The problem is world wide - around every continent, in the middle of every sea, at every depth. Fish and marine mammals are being taken at a rate that cannot keep up with replenishment through natural breeding - not only because of the ruthlessness of the fisheries, but also, in part, because the fish, the turtles, the seals and whales and porpoises are no longer being allowed to grow to maturity and continue to lay eggs and to breed; because the breeding places themselves are being destroyed; and because harvesting is being done during breeding season, when and where fish and marine life are known to aggregate in large numbers.

Says Roberts, "The wholesale removal of marine life and obliteration of their habitat is stripping resilience from ocean ecosystems. Moreover, it is undermining the ability of the oceans to support human needs. Overfishing is destabilizing the marine environment, contributing to the spread of anoxic dead zones and the increasing prevalence of toxic algal blooms, for example. Nature's power to bounce back after catastrophes or absorb the battery of stresses humanity is subjecting it to is being eroded, collapsed fishery after collapsed fishery, species by species, place by place."

Roberts warns: "To recover the world's fisheries we must change the way we think about and manage oceans. For much of the last hundred years, fisheries management has been conducted as an arms race between fishers and regulators. Regulators make laws to restrain fishing; fishers think up ways around them. In most places fishers have kept one step ahead of regulators, and fish populations have fallen. Ultimately, if fishers win the race with regulators their industry will self-destruct. The best that managers can claim in most places is that they are slowing the pace of suicide. Fisheries will become sustainable only when we set more modest catch targets and fish in ways that have less impact on fish habitats and other marine species." (emphasis added)

But Roberts does hold out some hope. He does not believe all species would be able to return to their original plenitude, but many could, over time, if changes are made now. He lists seven steps that must be taken: (1)reduce the amount of fishing - that is, decrease the total number of boats; (2) keep politicians out of the decision-making process - that is, limits should be set by scientists, not legislators; (3)replace catch quotas with limits on fishing effort, i.e., limit where, how long and with what gear a vessel can fish; (4)require fishers to keep what they catch - an incentive to adopt the best fishing practices; (5)use the best available fishing technology to reduce bycatch; (6) ban or restrict the most damaging fishing gear - like bottom trawlers; and, most importantly, (7)implement extensive networks of marine reserves that are off-limits to fishing.

Roberts believes that 20-40% of the ocean should be set aside in reserves (of which the proposed Marianas trench monument would be but a tiny fraction). "Doing this," he writes, "will maximize returns to the fishing industry, provide adequate refuges for vulnerable species, sustain genetic variability in populations, and afford protection to the full spectrum of biodiversity....This is the degree of scaling up of protection that is necessary to achieve a turnaround in world fisheries."
If our children and our grandchildren are to continue getting food from the sea, that is what is necessary to make sure they can. It is a challenging list - one that must be taken up by every coastal "state" throughout the world if it is to succeed. Unfortunately, it seems to be a low priority on almost everyone's list.

Further information about the book can be found at: < http://www.york.ac.uk/res/unnatural-history-of-the-sea/index.htm >.

Another Round of Press

George w bush the ocean presidentThis Associated Press story appeared in newspapers across the country and on over 1000 Internet news sites this weekend:
Bush wants to expand marine protections in Pacific

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Bush wants to extend environmental protections to more of the Pacific Ocean.
Bush said Friday he has asked the secretaries of the Interior, Commerce and Defense to identify additional areas that could be eligible for conservation.

Acknowledging that his administration is coming to an end, Bush said he is "sprinting to the finish."
"I mean, four months, you can actually get a lot done," he said.

He also announced that the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, off the California coast, will be expanded by 585 square nautical miles to include the Davidson Seamount, an underwater mountain.

Bush's comments came in a speech at the newly completed Sant Ocean Hall, scheduled to open to the public Saturday at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History.

Last month Bush proposed protecting three remote island chains, launching a marine conservation effort that could be one of the largest in history.

He is considering conserving parts of the Northern Mariana islands in the western Pacific, as well as eight islands and coral reef atolls and their surrounding waters in the central Pacific that are part of the Line Islands and American Samoa.
In his comments Friday, Bush noted a life-size model of a right whale in the museum and said his administration has sought to help protect these endangered whales.

Indeed, the government has recommended a speed limit for commercial ships along the Atlantic coast, where collisions with the right whale threaten its existence. Only about 300 or 400 of the whales are left in the wild, and they migrate annually between their southeastern Atlantic breeding grounds to feeding areas off the Massachusetts coast, intersecting busy shipping lanes.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Agnes McPhetres on the Monument

Agnes is the Vice Chair of the Friends of the Monument

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Friends of the Monument on TV

The Friends of the Monument appeared on the John Gonzales' TV talk show, MP 96950, to discuss the proposed Mariana Trench Marine National Monument. Appearing on the show were Chairman Ignacio V Cabrera, local business leader David M. Sablan, small business owner and former Congressman Andrew S. Sablan, and former Congressman and chair of the Republican Party, Karl T. Reyes.

The hour long program is broken up into 7 separate Youtube videos. They appear here in sequence:

Law of the Sea

Local attorney, Wes Bogdan, had a letter to the Editor published today:
Law of the sea

Seems like a lot of confusion out there as to some of the legal details and formalities concerning the proposed marine national monument. Unfortunately, keeping the public misinformed is the way many of the opponents to this idea probably want things to stay because controlling people through fear and ignorance is a powerful way to keep the public silent. In any respect, as to submerged land (and all the stuff found in the water) surrounding the Northern Mariana Islands, legally speaking, the U.S. Court of Appeals' decision in CNMI v. USA, 399 F.3d 1057 (2005) makes absolutely clear that the United States already owns all the rights to the submerged lands and other things of value found from the low-water mark on all of our islands out to the 200-mile-limit of the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone. All the natural resources such as oil, gas, and all other minerals, and fish, shrimp, oysters, clams, crabs, lobsters, sponges, kelp, and other marine animal and plant life surrounding these islands are already under federal control and ownership.

As categorically explained in CNMI v. USA, the U.S. acquired upon the termination of the Pacific Islands Trusteeship a paramount interest in the seaward submerged lands found off the shores of the CNMI. “Laws passed by the CNMI Legislature to the contrary are inconsistent with the paramountcy doctrine and are preempted by federal law.” To be absolutely clear, the CNMI's Submerged Lands Act and Marine Sovereignty Act have been preempted and are unenforceable. The CNMI Coastal Resources Management's arguments that: (i) we don't no need the feds because everything is already fine and dandy in the waters around the Northern Islands due to the great job CRM is doing; and (ii) that establishing a national monument will take away the rights of the local people how to regulate the local marine environment are absurd or otherwise nonsense.

First, CRM taking credit for the pristine conditions found in the waters around the Northern Islands is like CRM taking credit for the Sun being an efficient source of solar energy. (In all due respect: One has absolutely nothing to do with the other.) Second, the right of the local people to regulate the local marine environment was transferred or passed to the United States the day the people of the Northern Mariana Islands became United States citizens on Nov. 3, 1986. If a marine national park/monument is created, it won't be taking any rights away from the people of the CNMI, but would guarantee that the pristine conditions found in the waters around the Northern Islands will at least have a chance to survive. As for the actual islands of Maug, Uracas and Asuncion, they are already protected and can only “be maintained as uninhabited places used only for the preservation and protection of natural resources, including but not limited to bird, wildlife and plant species.” See CNMI Constitution Article XIV Section 2.

W.M. Bogdan, Esq.
via e-mail

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Uncle Karl and Dr. Jack in the Saipan Tribune

The Saipan Tribune carried a story today about the letters that Karl T Reyes and Dr. Jack Tenorio sent to the Senate in support of the proposed Mariana Trench Marine National Monument.
2 ConCon members back monument plan
By Agnes E. Donato

Two former members of the Constitutional Convention have called on lawmakers to support the proposal designating the CNMI's northernmost three islands as a marine monument.

Karl T. Reyes and Joaquin Tenorio wrote separate letters to the Legislature stating that the proposed marine monument is in line with the constitutional provision for the protection of the islands of Uracus, Maug, and Asuncion.

The Constitution requires that the three islands, as well as Guguan, be “maintained as uninhabited places and used only for preservation.”

“We believed then, as I still do, that the highest and best use of the northern three islands is preservation of the flora and fauna,” Tenorio said.

For his part, Reyes said, “I urge you to support the proposed Mariana Trench Marine National Monument. It will fulfill the original intent of our Constitution and benefit generations of Chamorros and Carolinians to come.”

Both Reyes and Tenorio were members of the Constitutional Convention's Personal Rights and Natural Resources Committee, which had recommended that the islands should be set aside as nature reserves.

Friday, September 19, 2008

If You Could Design Your Own Monument!

What would you want it to look like?

This is the question that the Friends of the Monument are being asked now that the feds are here to open up the dialogue.

For a long time the opposition has been suggesting that the people of the CNMI will have no say in the monument and that it will be a unilateral set of rules imposed by the feds. My understanding is that nothing could be farther from the truth. Representatives from the federal agencies involved with assessing the appropriateness and viability of the CNMI monument are now on Saipan in an attempt to ensure the best possible result and that local concerns / needs are addressed should the monument concept move forward.

Friends of the Monument are now being asked to draft a wish list of things that MUST occur in order for us to support the monument as well as a list of things YOU WOULD LIKE TO SEE.

I’ll take a stab at a start here but would like to get your thoughts too so please leave a comment with any additions.

I would NEED:
*Federal funds
*A visitor’s center on Saipan
*A ban on commercial fishing and mineral extraction
*A Co-management regulatory body with representatives from the CNMI (including but not necessarily limited to DFW, CRM and DNLR) and the NOAA Sanctuaries program.
*A mechanism that would allow limited, regulated access including sustainable fishing for indigenous peoples and the opportunity for limited ecotourism including diving charters.
*A federal funded Mariana Trench marine science curriculum within the public school system (for grade 7 students as an example).
*The boundaries to be drawn based on the best available science that will ensure the greatest opportunity for success of ecosystem based management.

I would LIKE TO SEE:
*A visitor’s center or satellite center on every island
*A federally funded cultural summer camp.
*Creation of informative advertising and educational collaterals for use by the Marianas Visitors Authority and the public / private schools.

How about you?


Friends PSA on Discovery Channel Blog

One of the Discovery Channel Blogs, Deep Sea News, has put up a link to our blog!  They have also posted our public service announcement!

The Friends of the Monument are famous!

Torres vs Phillips

Representative Stanley Torres wrote a letter to the editor yesterday:
It is pretty well known that PEW is willing to spend a lot of money to promote their proposed Bush Legacy Monument encompassing the northernmost three islands of the CNMI and 115,000 square miles of the surrounding ocean. They are willing to spend tens of thousands via renting office space, hiring employees locally, paying a Guam resident to prepare an economic study favorable to their cause, and paying several local folks directly and indirectly for other “projects.” More tens of thousands have been spent paying large sums for sales literature and even buying out issues of local magazines if they print favorable articles. They are willing to up the ante to spending hundreds of thousands to sell this idea by providing free ocean-going boat rides to some connected folks to “tour” the affected areas. Who knows who else is being paid in other ways locally and in far off Washington, D.C.

The latest spending spree involves paying a Guam-based company, Q Market Research, to conduct a sales job thinly disguised as a “phone survey” with Saipan residents as the target. By using leading questions, ambiguous questions, and questions skillfully designed to hype their proposal they want to infiltrate every home on Saipan and try to sell their fairytale version of what this Bush Monument will mean to the children of the Marianas.

We are supposed to believe an economic “study” bought and paid for by the PEW group when it makes outrageous claims of economic benefit. We are supposed to look the other way while they pay off local persons and groups to support the idea of ceding the northernmost islands of the Commonwealth and surrounding waters to the USA for all time. We are supposed to ignore the promises of luxurious free trips to these islands for influential persons willing to support them. I am sure the “results” of this latest “scientific” phony phone study paid for by PEW will be skewed to magically show how nearly every person on the planet is sold on the idea of the federal government taking control of one third of the Marianas forever. Have the Guam salesmen called your house yet?

We are supposed to believe that Pew is willing to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars “just for the satisfaction” of knowing they were able to influence the President of the United States to force the Marianas to give them a third of our 2,000 year heritage. Something makes me doubt that. There are favors being traded at very high levels and huge sums are at stake in this takeover bid. All for “the satisfaction”? How dumb do they think we are?

“Saving the Environment” is a clever ploy, and nothing more. These folks claim they want to preserve an area they say is already pristine. That cover story is not just doubtful, it is ridiculous. The truth is they want federal control over those areas and they are willing to pay out big bucks to get it. They want control to be taken from the legitimate owners of those lands and waters, the indigenous citizens of the CNMI with no chance for us to ever regain it.

The pot is beginning to boil. You can count on PEW and their paid minions to try and push public opinion their way by any means possible. There is an almost 100 percent split right now. The indigenous peoples who rightfully own those lands and waters oppose the Bush Monument proposal overwhelmingly. Foreign nationals and many mainland-based U.S. citizens are in favor of taking this area from those indigenous who have been guaranteed control of it. Our freely elected pepresentatives, our senators, our governor, all of our mayors oppose this idea and our village elders almost to a man oppose it as well.

How dumb do they think we are? They hope we are very dumb; but they are wrong. We can stop them if we stand up and fight. If you do not fight this absurd theft of our heritage now and they succeed in taking our islands and waters, what will you tell you children and grandchildren? It will be too late then to tell them you are sorry. All will be gone.

Rep. Stanley McGinnis Torres
Via email
Ken Phillips responds on his blog:
I've been mildly supportive of the proposed Marine Monument surrounding the northern Northern Mariana Islands; thinking it was more appropriate for people like David Sablan, Ike Cabrera, Agnes McPhetres and Karl Reyes to comment. I don't want opponents like Gourley and Joyner to muddy the waters by twisting it into 'outsiders telling us what to do'. After all, I've only been here for 25 years.

Still, I was surprised when I was polled about my opinion. It was obviously a survey of attitudes toward the monument-- and toward the military's presence in the Marianas-- but in no way was it a "sales job thinly disguised as a “phone survey” with Saipan residents as the target." I don't know whether Stanley Torres actually participated in the telephone survey, but I totally disagree with his assertion that "By using leading questions, ambiguous questions, and questions skillfully designed to hype their proposal they want to infiltrate every home on Saipan and try to sell their fairytale version of what this Bush Monument will mean to the children of the Marianas."

His letter sounds like a pre-emptive strike to discount the results if they don't favor his side. Not satisfied, he quickly slips into active paranoia: "There are favors being traded at very high levels and huge sums are at stake in this takeover bid." Whew, take a deep breath. Who is going to gain huge sums from a marine monument?

For myself, the questions clarified how important the issue is to me: not a deal-breaker, but certainly something I'll consider when I vote. Then again, I guess he was talking about me when he earlier wrote that "It’s not their ‘public land’ that would be given away should this [marine monument] be enforced by [President] Bush." Oh, wait, the 'public land' is the islands that are already protected by the CNMI Constitution. I guess the monument would be in the surrounding waters so that nasty federal government will be grabbing control... from themselves.

"How dumb do they think we are?" he asks. Let me rephrase that: how dumb do you think we are?

No worry, Representative Torres, I supported you for years because you were opposed, albeit ineffectively, to a lot of the CNMI government's mis-steps. That stopped a couple of years ago because of your increasingly vitriolic personal attacks on people you disagree with. I take it very personally that you are continually setting up 'statesiders' and 'mainlanders' as bogeymen.

Uncle Karl's Letter to the Senate

Uncle Karl's letter was published in the Saipan Tribune today:
To Senate President Pete P. Reyes
16th Commonwealth Legislature

Article XIV, Section 2 of the Northern Marianas Constitution addresses two important concepts with respect to “Uninhabited Islands.” First, it restricts the use of Managaha Island for “cultural and recreational” purposes only. Second, it identifies four islands to be “maintained as uninhabited places and used only for preservation,” namely the islands of Maug, Uracas, Asuncion, Guguan.

During the Second Northern Marianas Constitutional Convention of 1985, the Committee on Personal Rights & Natural Resources, of which I was a member, found that the islands of Uracas and Asuncion, two of the three islands in the proposed Mariana Trench Marine National Monument, are volcanically active and are generally unsuitable for permanent habitation. The Committee found that in their “undisturbed state”, these islands have acquired a “unique flora and fauna” and are “well suited for preservation or sanctuary status.”

We also found that “in order to protect and preserve these unique biological characteristics, including the native wildlife and habitats, access to these islands must be controlled.”

Furthermore, we found that these islands warranted protections because they had not sustained “substantial environmental damage caused by feral pigs and goats.”

Finally, we found that “management or protection of fish could be addressed by an appropriate agency of the government if necessary.”

The arguments I have heard in the media against the proposed Mariana Trench Marine National Monument all run counter to the intent of the writers of our beloved Constitution.

You have heard from that the current administration does not support the preservation of these northern islands. They support “sustainable use,” which conflicts with the Constitutional purpose to preserve these islands.

You have heard that if a monument were declared we would have to “ask permission” to go there. Our original intent in protecting those islands was for everyone to “ask permission.” That is the best way to protect and preserve their unique biological characteristics.

You have heard that there is no need to protect these islands because they are “so beautiful, so lush.” That is exactly why we intended to protect those islands in the first place. These islands are undisturbed and they are unique and they can serve as a source of population of wildlife to be used for restocking other islands where certain species, such as fruit bats and coconut crabs, have been depleted. They are also the last vestige of what the Marianas were like before the Spanish arrived.

Finally, you have heard that this is nothing more than another “federal takeover.” While our intent was to protect all the resources in the far north, we do not have jurisdiction or control over any of our surrounding waters. The Federal government has jurisdiction from the mean high water mark out to 200 nautical miles. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is the federal agency focused on the condition of the oceans and NOAA Sanctuaries is the appropriate government agency for preservation of our marine resources, not NOAA Fisheries.

I have attached a copy of the “Report to the Convention by the Committee on Personal Rights & Natural Resources: Committee Recommendation No. 29” for your reference. It will help you understand our constitution better.

In closing, I urge you to support the proposed Mariana Trench Marine National Monument. It will fulfill the original intent of our constitution and benefit generations of Chamorros and Carolinians to come.

Si Yu'use Ma'ase for your time and consideration.

Karl T. Reyes
Friends of the Monument

Andrew Salas Letter to the Editor

Andrew had a letter published in the Saipan Tribune today:
Together let's make monument a reality

The House of Representatives passed another resolution opposing talking with the federal government about the proposed marine monument. They did this without holding a single public hearing about this important issue. They did this despite the fact that everyday, more people are voicing their support for the marine monument.

Our good Senator Felix Mendiola of Rota wrote a letter to President Bush asking him to send an assessment team to the CNMI regarding the proposed marine monument and now we are preempting the discussion with the passage of a second House resolution. Why are we inviting the feds and then passing a resolution with a dialogue?

This proposed monument has the potential to greatly help our island. The proposal could bring over $10 million dollars in federal and tourist spending to our island economy-every year. The proposal has already generated positive press for our islands throughout the world. Seizing this opportunity would only create more positive exposure for our islands.

It is time to work together, the assessment team will be here this week so let's encourage our elected leaders, and the federal government to discuss the possibilities of preserving and protecting our waters. Let us discover what this opportunity holds for the people of the CNMI, and together let us make it a reality.

Andrew Sablan Salas
Chalan Kanoa

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Uncle Karl's Letter

Uncle Karl read his letter on the John Gonzales show last night.

Uncle Karl in the Marianas Variety

The Marianas Variety carried a story today about the letter that Uncle Karl wrote to the Legislature:
Ex-lawmaker urges Legislature to support marine monument proposal
Thursday, 18 September 2008
By Gemma Q. Casas - Variety News Staff

THE former chairman of the local Republican Party who served two terms in the House of Representatives is urging the Legislature to support the proposed Marianas Trench Marine National Monument, which he says is a project that will fulfill the mandates of the CNMI Constitution to protect the islands’ marine resources.

“It will…benefit generations of Chamorros and Carolinians to come,” said Karl T. Reyes in a letter to the presiding officers of the Legislature and Gov. Benigno R. Fitial.

The administration and the Legislature, as well as CNMI municipal officials, are opposed to the proposal.

Reyes said the proposal to designate the uninhabited islands of Maug, Asuncion and Uracas as a marine sanctuary will help restock the islands’ marine resources as well as certain species such as fruit bats and coconut crabs.

“You have heard that there is a need to protect these islands because they are ‘so beautiful, so lush.’ That is exactly why we intended to protect those islands in the first place. These islands are undisturbed and they are unique and can serve as a population of wildlife to be used for restocking other islands with certain species,” he said.

Reyes, a member of the 1985 Constitutional Convention committee on personal rights and natural resources, said Uracas and Asuncion — two of the three islands proposed to be declared a marine sanctuary — are active volcanic islands unsuitable for permanent habitation.

“Furthermore, we found that these islands warranted protections because they had not sustained “substantial environmental damage caused by feral pigs and goats,” he added.

The Legislature already adopted two joint resolutions urging President Bush to reject the proposal.

Most lawmakers and the Fitial administration fear that the CNMI stands to lose access to a 200-mile exclusive economic zone surrounding the waters of the three islands if the proposal is approved.

“The people of the CNMI have a strong affinity with these islands and its surrounding waters, and have a deep sense of its connection to the culture, traditions and the unique identity of their people,” House Joint Resolution 16-13 stated.

“A unilateral designation of this area as a marine monument under the Antiquities Act without the consent of the people of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands would be an affront insult to the people, especially to the people of the CNMI,” it added.

Supporters of the project, however, said this is an opportunity for the CNMI to be known internationally about its environmental contribution to the world.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Friends on John Gonzales

Several Friends of the Monument appeared on the John Gonzales MP 96950 talk show this evening. Ignacio V Cabrera and David M Sablan sat on the first panel and Andrew S Salas and Karl T Reyes sat on the second.

The Friends appeared on the show to dispel some myths and to talk about their support and thier reasons behind their support.

The Friends are going to upload the entire show onto Youtube, so come back in a few days to watch the show.

Friends meet the Feds

Friends of the Mariana TrenchFederal Official Allen Tom from NOAA gave a presentation to the Friends of the Monument last night on the Pacific Sanctuary Program. The group learned about the facilities and operations that could follow a monument designation.

During the question and answer period, former Attorney General Robert Torres asked Mr. Tom, "What took you so long to get here?"

Friends member Bryan Jones recorded the entire presentation. We are going to put it onto our Youtube account as soon as possible.

Public Service Announcement

Contributor Scubatripp - My Pledge

As a contributor to this blog I feel it important to introduce myself to the readers and outline why I support the monument concept as well as what I plan to do to help ensure that its ultimately good for the CNMI.

Who I am (scubatripp).
My name is Mike Tripp; I’m a 42-year-old, multi-professional, small business owner and health care employee living on the island of Saipan in the Northern Mariana Islands. I’m university educated with a degree in Pharmaceutical Sciences from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver Canada. I’m also a professional PADI SCUBA Instructor with over 18 years experience working in 8 different countries around the world while traveling and diving the waters of over a dozen more. I have been a nature lover and an outdoors person all of my life beginning with family vacations as a young boy that have left fond memories of travel through Canada and the USA including many national, provincial and state parks. I love the Discovery Channel and National Geographic type programming and believe that our environment, including the planet as a whole, is ultimately under threat from destructive human practices and overall population growth.

Why I support the Monument.
In a nutshell I support the monument because it will be good for the local economy especially the tourism sector and all other areas touched by the success of the only remaining core industry in the CNMI. It will also preserve a large area of our world’s ocean from destruction by mankind and therefore allow scientists from around the world (including the CNMI) to study its unique characteristics and species in as controlled a manner as possible for generations to come. The monument will help the CNMI become a 21st century world leader in terms of conservation while pushing the negative criticisms and stereotypes the CNMI carries from its past into the history books. In the end this will effectively clear the way for younger generations and upcoming leaders of a population instrumental in the world’s history to thrive under the US flag and an international spotlight dialed into the positive press. With the help of federal funding and the designation of a monument the people of the CNMI have an opportunity to protect and carry on a strong heritage of traditional conservation values that will maintain renewable resources for the benefit of future generations.

What I intend to do to support the monument.
First and foremost I will continue to do what I have been doing since this idea was first brought forward by the Pew Environmental Group many months ago. I will continue to ask questions and be involved in the discussions with those from all sides. I will continue to do my own research and look for the facts needed to back up or refute the statements made. I will continue to talk to local residents, business people and politicians in the hopes that my ideas and thoughts can help bring about the best possible situation for all those affected by the monument designation itself as well as the mutually agreed upon rules and regulations that will ultimately govern how the waters are used and accessed. In the end, whether the monument becomes reality or not, I will continue to be an advocate for our oceans by continuing to educate those willing to listen as to the wonders of what lies beneath the surface and why protecting and respecting what we have, right here in our back yard, is so important to human survival. I owe this to my kids and to yours.

As the process of discussion with the federal government has just gotten started after many months of advocacy by both the pro and con forces I will also refer the reader to a number of articles I have already written on the subject. These links lead you to my own blog at www.saipanscuba.blogspot.com and to the local news papers the Tribune and the Variety.

April 25th 2008
Act Two - Northern Island Marine Monument

Friday, May 9, 2008
Marine Monument - Why Kill It Now?*

Monday, May 12, 2008
Marine Monument – Personalities & Politics*

Wednesday, May 14, 2008
Marine Monument - Lets Talk eh!*

Friday, May 16, 2008
Marine Monument - The Benefits / It's Not All About the Fishing*

Thursday, May 22, 2008
Marine Monument - Get Informed

Friday, May 23, 2008
Marine Monument - Ruth's Round Up

Saturday, May 24, 2008
Bush Eyes Unprecedented Conservation Program - NPR Report

Monday, July 14, 2008
Coral Triangle Meet the Trench Monument

Friday, July 18, 2008
Pew's Role Defined

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Allen Tom at Saipan Rotary Club

Allen Tom, Regional Director of the NOAA Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, was one of the guest speakers at the Saipan Rotary Club today. He is on island to do a preliminary assessment of the proposed Mariana Trench Marine National Monument.

He was introduced by Friends of the Monument Vice Chair Agnes McPhetres, who is one of the two first women to serve in the Rotary Club on Saipan.

He told Rotary that he was here to gather information on the public sentiment surrounding the monument. He is meeting with government officials in both the Executive and Legislative branches.

This morning he told us he spent three hours meeting with the Governor's office. He is meeting with the Senate tomorrow and on Thursday he will be meeting with the full House of Representatives at the House Chamber at 1:30 PM.

This evening Allen will give a presentation on the Pacific Sanctuaries program to the Friends of the Monument. We have reserved the Chamolinian Room at the Hyatt Hotel for his presentation. The presentation starts at 5 PM tonight and we welcome all supporters to attend.

After the Rotary meeting he spoke with the press, so if you are reading this before tonight's evening news, check out Channel 2 KSPN at 6:00, 8:00, or 10:00. Keep an eye out for Friends of the Monument members Uncle Dave Sablan, Ignacio Cabrera, and Agnes McPhetres.

Reasons I Support the Marianas Trench Monument Proposal

I agree with every single reason listed in support of the Marianas Trench Monument. Most significant from my perspective is the need for conservation and protection of our fragile marine environments.
Please voice your support for the proposal to create a Marianas Trench Monument.
Please raise your concerns in the comment section below, so that we can discuss them. Most of the concerns I've heard expressed by people I've spoken to are based on misinformation about the proposal, the role of Pew Charitable Trust's Ocean Legacy, the law, or all of these. Let's discuss it all.

My support for the Marianas Trench Monument is both passionate and rational. Where do you stand?

Monday, September 15, 2008

Contact Us!

To contact the Friends of the Monument, please call Chair Ignacio V. Cabrera.

Friends of the Monument
c/o Ignacio V. Cabrera
PO BOX 500921
Saipan, MP 96950

(670) 256-5648

marianamonument at gmail dot com


From the White House CEQ webpage:
As part of this assessment, the Administration will be discussing the areas of interest with the public, various interested parties and user groups as well as elected officials. The Council and agencies involved in the assessment are planning to conduct several public open houses to further facilitate public input and discussion. At any time, the public can provide input on this issue to the Chairman of the Council on Environmental Quality by writing him at 722 Jackson Place, N.W., Washington D.C. 20503 or via email at Chairman@ceq.eop.gov.

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Mariana Monument Banner


Good for Culture & Tradition

culture and traditionThis poster was designed by a local artist to highlight how Conservation is a time honored Micronesian tradition.

Rainbow Runners and Shark

mariana trench marine monumentWe are going to post pictures of the proposed monument on this blog. This is a picture of a shark and some rainbow runners.

Sign our Petition!

Have you seen us out in the community? We've been collecting signatures in support of the Monument for several weeks now. Our petition reads:
Understanding that the quality of the world's oceans are deteriorating, and that its marine life in all forms are also under stress; and
Observing that designation of marine sanctuaries does restore fisheries and marine life to an earlier plenitude; and
Welcoming the opportunity to support the Micronesia Challenge and contribute towards and support the restoration of the world's seas and underwater ecosystems; and
Recognizing that the CNMI's economy is failing and its people suffering accordingly; and
Believing that an increase in visitors to the CNMI would significantly refuel the economy; and
Being aware that declaration of a Marianas Marine Monument would bring such an increase of visitors, scientists, explorers, tourists and the media to the CNMI; and further
Keeping in mind the historical and cultural significance of all the islands in the Marianas archipelago; and
Wishing to assure their preservation and protection,
We, the undersigned, do hereby petition the President of the United States, George W. Bush, to designate the waters surrounding the Marianas' islands of Maug, Uracas and Asuncion a National Monument, to be regulated and administered jointly and cooperatively by the people of the CNMI and the relevant agencies of the federal government.
Have you signed yet? What are you waiting for!?!

Mr. Cabrera goes to Washington

Ignacio Cabrera and Agnes McPhetresFriends of the Monument Chair Ignacio Cabrera and Vice-Chair Agnes McPhetres recently met with Federal officials in our Nation's capitol, Washington DC, to talk about the proposed Mariana Trench Marine National Monument. They met with officials from the Council on Environmental Quality, Department of Interior, Department of Commerce, Department of Defense, and with several elected Representatives in the House.

Map of the Monument

Mariana Trench Marine National MonumentThe concept supported by the Friends of the Monument is to create a no-take Monument in the northern waters of the Marianas around the Constitutionally protected islands of Asuncion, Maug, and Farallon de Pajaros (Uracas). This area encompasses over 115,000 square miles of water and would be the second largest protected area in the world.

First Post!

Hafa Adai and welcome to the first blog post of the Friends of the Monument!

We are a group of volunteers dedicated to the dedication and proper management of the proposed Mariana Trench Marine National Monument. We plan on posting information on the monument on this Blogspot.

Please come back often for more info!!!

Monday, September 1, 2008


Dear Editor:

In gathering signatures for the petition for the marine monument, most people support the marine monument. Interestingly enough, 10 of the 17 letters opposed to the marine monument have come from Mr. John Gourley. Most of the rest were from members of Wespac. More than two pages in support of the marine monument and not even a page opposed. You are alone in your opposition, John.

Commercial fishermen will, in fact, benefit. If they request a fishing base on Pagan, they could refuel and keep their fish on ice. This Pagan fuel storage facility could also be used as a stop for tourists to the marine monument. It is something that could be negotiated when the federal officials come to assess the marine monument. This is a win-win for everyone. Think about it.

Ken Kramer
Fina Sisu