Friday, November 28, 2008

My Thanksgiving

Some people don't celebrate thanksgiving, but most people have small barbecue and are thankful for a lot of things. This year went by so fast, and so much has happen to me that I'm thankful for.

On Thanksgiving Day my family and I decided to attend a Thanksgiving mass, and have a small get together at my grandmother's house. Everything went well, I remembered my older sister asking me what I'm thankful for. I had some things on my mind but it wasn't a whole list. Her questioned never got off my mind, so I decided to think about all the good things that happen to me this pass few months. I took out a piece of paper and wrote ten things that I'm thankful for.

This Thanksgiving day, I’m thankful for:

1. My grandmother survived uterus cancer, and is still recovering.

2. Auntie Ning & Uncle Ike helped me with my truck, I love you both.

3. I’m thankful to have my mom around till this very day, you’re the best!

4. My whole family supports the monument, and wears orange every weekend.

5. I collected 500 signatures on my own! Whoopee!

6. I have a job to help mommy financially.

7. I’m thankful that Laurie and Angelo educated me about the Monument; I love you guys to the maximum power!

8. I’m thankful that so many islanders support the monument.

9. Thankful to have a big family with a big heart.

10. Thankful to be around and learned new things everyday!

Monument in Popular Science

Popular Science has an article about the Mariana Trench Marine National Monument this month.
As of press time, government agencies declined to divulge details or a time frame for a decision. They did, however, confirm that the president had requested an assessment on the possibility of increased protection for up to 700,000 square miles of ocean (three times the size of Texas) west of Hawaii, as well as the Northern Mariana Islands and the Mariana Trench, a 6.8-mile chasm that marks the deepest part of the ocean and harbors hundreds of exotic marine species.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Future of Fishing

This PSA was created by Shifting Baselines.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008



1. The Federal Government is trying to help our islands.

2. More than 5,000 people sign the petition.

3. Our Constitution already supports conservation.

4. We have one of the deepest trench in the world.

5. We have many species that don't exist anywhere else.

6. We have a lot of community support.

7. We have grown closer as family and friends.

8. Laura Bush supports the idea of a monument.

9. OBAMA is our new president.

10. Change will happen soon.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

An Open Letter to the World from the Friends of the Monument

As we move towards the culmination of our goal of establishing a marine monument, we wish to offer this letter of gratitude to all those who have helped us reach this point in our journey.

The idea was a quite simple one: preserve the waters, along with the richness and biodiversity within, for this and future generations. As we stated in our formal request to President George W. Bush, “Declaring the waters as a monument would expedite the process of bringing protection to the precious resources found in the waters there, while establishing specific federal responsibilities toward governance of the Monument, and enhancing our ocean legacy.”

Yet, as simple as the idea was, the journey to see its fruition has been one fraught with challenges. They were challenges, however, for which we were prepared.

Scientists will tell you that any new theory is first rejected as false, then dismissed as trivial, then accepted as important--but known all along. (1. The theory is not true; 2. The theory is true, but it is unimportant; 3. The theory is true, and it is important – but we knew it all along.) So, we suffered the slings and arrows of doubts from some…and we persevered.

Marketers will tell you that every new innovation goes through the stages of awareness, interest, evaluation, and trial before it is accepted. So, as interest mounted, we educated the masses about the benefits of such a monument to the CNMI… and we persevered.

Philosophers will tell you that all truth passes through three stages: First it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Finally, it is accepted as being self-evident. So, we responded to allegations of deception from our critics… and we persevered.

Playwrights will tell you that every great story must have conflict. It is the heart of drama. (Someone wants something, and people and things keep getting in the way of them achieving the goal.) So, we tolerated the media spin that portrayed the chasm between Monument supporters and critics; a spin which at times minimized the overwhelming support for the monument from within our community….and we persevered.

Finally, all of life's great achievers will tell you there is no victory without struggle, so we accepted the role of those who positioned themselves as our opponents, for we recognized the role of the opposition in every new theory, every new innovation, all truth, and every great story.

We realize, with all the attacks, the suspicion, the pace of change, the drama, the conflict, struggle, and false statements, the real danger lies not in our acceptance of the monument, but in allowing things to continue as they are. It is a fact that the health of our oceans continues to decline every year. Without intervention, species will disappear, reefs will die, and we will lose what has been described as “one of the most unique geological and biological environments on Earth.”

In fact, the most compelling ‘danger’ of a new revolutionary theory is the real and present harm its acceptance would inflict on the power, wealth or prestige of adherents to the already-existing theory. We are aware that there are those who feel their power, wealth or prestige are at stake. To them, we offer the assurance that we, like them, seek only the best for our children and future generations. We are willing to sacrifice a little in the interest of future need.

And, there is no victory without the efforts of those who have helped take this from a seed of an idea to being a part of the conversations within the highest echelons of power within these United States. Therefore, it is with a sense of gratitude that we, the Friends of the Monument, thank the following:

We thank the scores of volunteers who donated countless hours helping our community become educated, and speak out about an issue important to the CNMI. Thank you.

We thank the 5,632 residents (and growing, on an island of 13,000 indigenous and 60,000 total population) who have signed our petition. Thank you.

We thank the business leaders who have come out bravely in support of the idea, and who have written letters to the media as well as to President Bush voicing their support. Thank you.

We are thankful of the increasing coverage by the world media that has helped us shine a light on the natural beauty deserving of our attention and preservation. Thank you.

We thank James Connaughton, Chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality for his valuable time and energy listening to the concerns of our leaders and community. Thank you.

And, finally, we thank First Lady Laura Bush for lending her presence and position to our cause, and to the momentum of the world-wide movement in support of the Monument. Thank you.

Historians will tell you that every great movement is subjected to attempts to suppress, and subvert, but that the worthy ones eventually gather grass-roots momentum and spark the changes that move us forward as a society. The annals of history are filled with evidence that there is no greater force than an idea whose time has come.

We believe our time has come.

Thank you, one and all.

Ignacio V. Cabrera
Friends of the Monument

Friday, November 14, 2008

The Color Orange

Have you ever wondered why the Friends of the Monument wear the color orange?

For the past months many people are starting to wear the color orange. It is the new trend in fashion lately here in Saipan. The color orange represents beauty, uniqueness, and nature. It is also our state tree color, which is the flame tree. The color orange stands out just like the flame tree, especially during the summer. As the tree starts to bloom along the beach road area, it will stand out to say to the community "I want a monument" here in the CNMI.

2 out of 5000

There were two letters in the Saipan Tribune today written by people who had signed the petition in support of the Marine Monument.

The first letter was written by Ben Deleon Guerrero Jr.
Making Myself Clear

I'm writing to you today because I don't know which rumor is true. And I also wanted to make myself clear.

The first I heard was that nonresidents in the CNMI cannot sign the petition. Some say they can. And second, we won't be able to fish in our own waters up there. Some say we still could.

My question is how do people go there? Or do people even go there? What kind of boat do they use?

My cousin is a full supporter of the proposed National Marine Monument. She is also a volunteer. She taught me lots of interesting information about the islands and the animals that live there. She gave me a booklet with tons of cool pictures and facts about the three islands. That booklet is called “Scientific Report.”

Anyway, one day I went to PriceCostco and saw two men standing by the door with petition in their hands. They greeted me and asked me if I have heard about the proposed marine monument. I said yes! I grabbed his pen and gave him my signature.

Yes, I am 17 years old and I am one of the 5,000 people that signed the petition in support of the Marine Monument. I am a local resident of the Commonwealth, and I was educated about the issue before signing the petition. I just wanted to make that clear.

Ben Deleon Guerrero Jr.
Dandan, Saipan
The second letter was written by Maegan Agulto.
No coercion

Oh man, was I excited to see that thousands and thousands of people signed the petition in support of the marine monument.

I'm proud to say that I am one of those who signed, knowing that it would be a great opportunity for my daughter when she gets older.

I support the marine monument because I was taught/educated that it would bring great benefits to both our schools and our tourist industry. Most importantly media attention! That gives people from around the world a chance to learn about our ocean's marine life.

I signed the petition that was circulated by my sister, who is a volunteer and a full supporter. She taught our family a lot about the marine monument. I was educated, not forced, and I completely understood what I was signing.

Maegan Agulto
Chalan Kanoa, Saipan

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Please Support the Monument--Vote in Poll

Please support the proposed Marianas Trench Marine National Monument: vote in the current on-line poll at The Marianas Variety . Just scroll down a bit--it's on the right-hand side.


Thursday, November 6, 2008

Will It Hurt Our Economy?

The LA Times carried a report that First Lady Laura Bush supports the creation of a marine national monument here, but Vice President Dick Cheney opposes it because it "will hurt our economy."

There are some important considerations when assessing the economic impact of creating a marine national monument here.

1. Right now, we have little to no economic activity in the proposed protected area going on. The waters around Uracas, Maug, and Asuncion are not being fished. An earlier report from WESPAC suggested that the area is not a feasible or viable fishery. There is no mining going on in the proposed monument area. So stopping economic activity there now causes no change to what we have at present, and certainly no harm to our economy.

2. The future is speculative. For gamblers, the possibility that there may be some potential mining is "economic harm." For conservationists, the possibility of future damage to our marine life and eco-system is not only biological and geological harm, but economic harm. No one can prove the future, but we can look to the past to see what is likely.

* We know that the rest of the world's oceans have been harmed, that marine diversity is dwindling at an alarming rate, that pollution does not stay in one area. There is reason to want to take measures now to conserve what we have.

* We know that any minerals that may be desirable for mining would be at the southern part of the protected area, and not in the same place as some of the deep water, most unusual and unique life; we know that we can have different zones for the protected areas, so that mining could be allowable in some part of the protected area.

* We know that "no take" zones help marine life recover. While the protected area right now does not have the kind of marine life desireable or economically advantageous to fishermen, as the rest of the world's oceans are fished out, the last and least likely places will be tapped for whatever can be taken from them. If we don't protect some area, we'll have nothing left.

3. There are potential economic benefits that far outweigh any possible harm. We will get free world-wide press coverage, which will help our sagging tourism economy. We will get more scientists coming to study, and they will spend money here while present in the CNMI, and will help at our schools and college. We will get a Visitor Center, which will provide for some jobs, as well as giving tourists more to do while here and possibly extending their visits another day. We will get a boat that can be used for transportation to the northern islands, on the way to the marine protected area.

There are likely many more advantages that I have not mentioned. While economists can always argue with each other over specific assumptions made in their studies, it is clear that their are economic gains to be made from the designation, and few if any economic losses to be sustained.

If we do nothing, what economic benefit will we gain?
None. Nothing now. Only a gamble that sometime in the future there may be something that we can exploit and further ruin, changing our natural world to dollars.

If we have a marine national monument designated, we will get
* free worldwide press
* an improved chance for more visitors
* a Visitors Center, which adds a few jobs and entices longer visits by tourists
* greater educational opporutnities for students here
* and a portion of our world saved and conserved for our future generations.

Monday, November 3, 2008

If you're here looking for information...

We have our public service announcement on the radio and television inviting people to stop by this blog for information. If you are one of the people responding to those PSAs, please look around the blog. There are many posts with lots of information.

I'd also encourage everyone to check out the post on Lil Hammerhead's blog that discusses some of the important scientific evidence about the need for marine "no take" zones.

At the public meeting with federal officials, one of the things I heard from people questioning the idea of a marine sanctuary/monument here is that our waters are in good shape, our marine environment hasn't been deleteriously effected, our marine resources are being adequately managed.

The reality is different, though. If you talk with people who've been here a long time, people who spend time in the water, they can tell you that fishing was better in the past--the fish were bigger, there were more of them, they were closer to us. Now it's getting hard to find some species, and the fishermen are going further out to do it.

We don't live in isolation from the rest of the world. Our ocean touches Asia, Australia, North America and South America. The marine animals we see here, especially the large marine mammals, may have traveled from those places. We are not immune from the pollution and over-fishing that is depleting our ocean resources at an alarming rate.

We need this marine national monument to protect our marine life while we still have it.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Virgin Islands Buck Island Reef National Monument

This is a video about a monument in the Virgin Islands. This monument is managed by NOAA and the National Park Service.