A public scoping process was initiated on April 17, 2023, when NOAA issued a Federal Register Notice of Intent (NOI) to prepare a draft management plan, draft environmental impact statement and proposed rule for the proposed Pacific Remote Islands National Marine Sanctuary. The notifications included information on public scoping meetings and how to participate, as well as ways to provide written input. Additional public outreach was conducted via press releases, community announcements, email, social media, and the NOAA Office of National Marine Sanctuaries website. The 45-day public comment period closed on June 2, 2023.
During scoping, NOAA sought a wide range of public input on topics such as natural, cultural and historic resources to protect; potential socio-economic, cultural, and biological impacts of concern; potential management measures and regulations; and proposed sanctuary boundaries.
Public scoping meetings were held in May 2023 to gather input on the proposed sanctuary designation. Meetings consisted of an informational presentation followed by a public comment period. A total of 360 people attended the seven in-person meetings, while 179 participated virtually. During these meetings 140 oral and written comments were received.
- May 10, 2023: Honolulu, Hawaiʻi – 50 in-person, 42 virtual participants
- May 11, 2023: Hilo, Hawaiʻi – 30 in-person, 41 virtual participants
- May 17, 2023: Hagåtña, Guam – 32 in-person, 16 virtual participants
- May 18, 2023: Saipan, CNMI– 80 in-person, 20 virtual participants
- May 19, 2023: Rota, CNMI – 18 participants
- May 20, 2023: Tinian, CNMI – 17 participants
- May 24, 2023: Pago Pago, American Samoa – 133 in-person, 41 virtual participants
- May 10, 2023: Virtual only – 12 virtual participants
- May 10, 2023: Virtual only – 7 virtual participants
Approximately 57,000 written and oral comments were received through the nine public meetings, via regulations.gov, mail, or email. Public comments spanned a broad range of topics, issues of concern, and recommendations. Major topical areas included: sanctuary boundary; resource protection; sanctuary regulations; fisheries management; socio-economic impacts; the incorporation and inclusion of Indigenous Pacific Islander values, practices and management, and historic properties.
Written public comments are available to view on the Federal eRulemaking Portal at https://www.regulations.gov, docket #: NOAA-NOS-2023-0052.
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