Currently undergoing the designation process
The area was nominated by the Pacific Remote Islands Coalition. On March 24, 2023, President Biden issued a Presidential Memorandum directing the Secretary of Commerce to consider initiating the designation process for a proposed national marine sanctuary in the Pacific Remote Islands area. On April 17, 2023, NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries began the designation process by issuing a Notice of Intent to Conduct Scoping and to Prepare a Draft Environmental Impact Statement.
The waters surrounding the Pacific Remote Islands are home to some of the most diverse and remarkable tropical marine life on the planet including numerous threatened and endangered species and species found nowhere else in the world. The intact ecosystems include vast pelagic seascapes, open-ocean underwater seamounts, and some of the last remaining coral reefs relatively untouched by human activities. Intact natural ecosystems are more resilient to the effects of climate change and can help in the fight against biodiversity loss.
The Pacific Remote Islands have connected nature and culture since time immemorial. Native Hawaiian, Samoan, Chamorro, Carolinian, and many other Pacific Island Indigenous Peoples, have voyaged across these waters, navigating by interpreting the stars, winds, and currents with great proficiency. Today, these waters are a critical location for teaching and practicing traditional open-ocean wayfinding. In addition to the Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander cultural connections with the Pacific Remote Islands, these waters were used for commercial and military interests in the modern era and likely contain many undiscovered historical shipwrecks.
Much of the proposed sanctuary area is currently a part of the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument. The proposed sanctuary may include all the waters of the existing marine national monument and the currently unprotected waters from 50 to 200 nm off Howland and Baker Islands, Palmyra Atoll, and Kingman Reef. Sanctuary designation would allow NOAA to supplement the existing protections for the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument and to conserve additional areas outside the monument’s existing boundary. The proposed sanctuary would not include terrestrial areas or diminish the protections of the existing monument.