Friends of the Monument Release Petition with over 5500 signatures
21 October 2008
Ike Cabrera: email@example.com; (670) 256-5648 (h); 483-8426 (m)
Agnes McPhetres: firstname.lastname@example.org; 670-235-2430 (h)
Andrew Salas: email@example.com; 670-285-3740 (c); 233-8200 (o)
Saipan — Today the Friends of the Monument (FOM), a coalition of indigenous and resident people of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) who support designation and protection of the waters of the Mariana Trench* announced they have met their petition goal in support of a protected marine monument.
“More than 5500 local residents of the CNMI signed our petition in support of designating a monument in the waters around the three northernmost islands of the Mariana Islands,” said Ike Cabrera Chairman of FOM. “We will be submitting these signatures to the federal government this week as part of the comment period announced by President Bush.”
Andrew Salas, FOM vice chair, pointed out the significance of the thousands of signatures. “It wasn’t easy but over 60 individuals spent four months gathering the signatures. Our islands only have about 12,000 registered voters, and 65,000 residents. Fifty-five hundred signatures represent a tremendous endorsement of the marine conservation and the monument idea.”
On August 25, 2008 President George W. Bush directed his federal agencies to assess several sites in the Pacific for increased conservation and protection, including the possible designation of new marine monuments. One of the sites identified by the White House is a portion of the Mariana Trench within Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and adjacent waters. A proposal for protecting this area of more than 115,000 square miles has been debated in the CNMI for almost a year.
“Now that thousands of people in CNMI have spoken out in support of a marine monument,” continued Agnes McPhetres, Vice Chair of the FOM, “we would like to see more support for the concept from our elected officials. It’s an opportunity we shouldn’t pass up”
Concluded Cabrera, “We have worked hard to demonstrate to the federal government that the people of the CNMI support marine conservation and the proposed monument. We hope they listen.”
*The Mariana Trench is the deepest point on the globe at over 36,000 feet deep. Mt. Everest dropped into the Trench would have more than a mile of water above it.
Friends of the Monument Web site: http://marianamonument.blogspot.com