Your Marine National Monuments are at Risk – Take Action Today!

Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge
Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge, which is part of the greater Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument | Ian Shive

The United States manages and protects some of the world’s most precious and intact marine ecosystems designated as marine national monuments. Over 7,000 known marine species, 23 seabird species, 30 marine mammal species, 200 coral species, and 25 threatened and endangered species, reside in five marine national monuments – four in the Pacific and one in the Atlantic. However, they are now seriously threatened by President Trump’s recent Executive Order requiring Secretary of Interior Zinke to review 27 national monument designations under the previous three Administrations.

The list of monuments under review includes six in the National Wildlife Refuge System – five of these are marine national monuments and one is land based. All are an integral part of wildlife conservation within the System. There has been broad bi-partisan public support for the establishment and expansion of the marine national monuments, which are now under threat. It is our obligation to ensure we continue protecting these seascapes to preserve our nation’s history, culture, and wildlife.

Recently expanded under the Obama Administration, Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument encompasses two very important national wildlife refuges, Hawaiian Islands National Wildlife Refuge and Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge. In particular, Midway Atoll supports the world’s largest population of Laysan albatross and endangered monk seals. It is also home to the Battle of Midway, a turning point of World War II in the Pacific – which will be celebrating it’s 75th Anniversary on June 5th. The expansion of Papahanaumokuakea was widely supported, not only by the scientific and conservation community, but also by native Hawaiians. Perceived as sacred grounds, the expanded territory guaranteed additional protections to conserve and protect native Hawaiian’s culture and heritage.

Laysan albatross at the Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge
Laysan albatross. Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge, which is part of the greater Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument | Ian Shive

The Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument is of global and regional ecological importance for large predatory fish, seabirds, marine mammals, and sea turtles. An estimated 14 million seabirds use these areas as feeding and breeding grounds. Five species of protected sea turtles, including the critically endangered leatherback, and 22 species of protected marine mammals use these waters as migratory routes and feeding grounds.

In September 2016, President Obama established the first marine national monument in the Atlantic Ocean, the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument, protecting many rare and endangered species. The establishment of the monument improves ocean resilience in the face of climate change, and helps to sustain the ocean ecosystems and fishing economies in these regions for the long run.

So what does all of this mean?

The Antiquities Act, passed by Congress and signed into law by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1906 gave authority to the President of the United States to establish national monuments to protect federal land containing “historic landmarks, historic and prehistoric structures, and other objects of historic or scientific interest.” However, since 1938, when President Franklin D. Roosevelt asked his Attorney General if he could revoke a national monument and was told he could not, no President has sought to rescind the designation of a national monument unilaterally – until now.

With much of our country’s wildlife at risk, these monuments in particular offer rare protection for our treasured coral reefs, seabirds, whales, sea turtles, and thousands of other species. Each monument possesses historical significance, offers scientific discovery potential, preserves economic resources, protects our national security, and sustains invaluable environments for years to come.

Aerial view of Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge
Aerial view of Eastern Island (top) and Spit Island (bottom) at Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge | Ian Shive

Don’t think President Trump should remove protections for these thriving ecosystems? Neither do we! In fact, the law doesn’t allow him to. Reducing or divesting a national wildlife refuge requires an act of Congress. Nevertheless, six monuments, which are all part of the National Wildlife Refuge System, are at risk.

Click here to take action!

We need YOUR voice to be heard. We need YOU. Protect the National Wildlife Refuge System by preserving your marine national monuments today. Wildlife and their habitats depend on it.

Permanent link to this article: https://www.refugeassociation.org/2017/06/your-marine-national-monuments-are-at-risk-take-action-today/

1 comment

  1. Laurie says:

    It is off the utmost importance to preserve the nation’s biodiversity. In doing this, it creates jobs, supports research and speaks volumes to the next generations to come! Those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it, so let’s uphold the Antiquities Act,ant never forget what the counties forefathers stood upon to keep America great for all species

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