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Photo: Wayne Levin
Photo: Wayne Levin
Photo: Lisianski

Hawai‘i fishermen in support of protecting the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument and the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument

Dear Secretary Zinke and Secretary Ross,

As fishermen who rely directly on the health of Hawai‘i’s ocean environment, we write in support of maintaining the current protections for the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument and the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument.

Maintaining a balanced marine ecosystem is key to preserving fish populations and all forms of wildlife. Science has shown marine reserves such as Papahānaumokuākea and the Pacific Remote Islands help to do this by protecting smaller fish, which then grow and mature in the reserve, and can then be caught once they swim beyond its boundaries. This “spillover” effect ensures the sustainability of these populations into the future and has far-reaching benefits for the fishing community.

Not only do the reserves allow fish time to mature, but they protect fragile habitats that are essential for fish populations to flourish. For example, sea grass beds are important nursery grounds for crabs, shrimp, and many species of fish. Coral reefs, which are home to a quarter of all marine life on the planet are also important habitat for fish, which receive critical protections within the boundaries of the marine monuments.

Papahānaumokuākea and the Pacific Remote Islands help maintain the productivity of Hawai‘i’s ocean ecosystem and are vital links to ensuring the health of the broader central Pacific. When these ecosystems are healthy and intact, it allows us to continue sustainably fishing, maintaining our livelihoods and long-held traditions.

Being out on the ocean on a daily basis, we are deeply connected to this ecosystem and know we must manage it sustainably if we wish future generations to experience it as well. Maintaining the boundaries of the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument and the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument is one step to ensure this will happen and we urge you to oppose any rollbacks in scale or scope of protections for the monuments.

Please accept this letter as an official public comment for Docket No. DOI-2017-0002.