Response to Pressures
This section provides a summary of existing and proposed responses to pressures on marine resources of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. Existing monument responses and management actions are enacted to implement the final Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument regulations issued by NOAA and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on August 29, 2006, that codify the prohibitions and management measures set forth in Presidential Proclamation 8031. The Monument Co-Trustees developed a joint management plan, containing 22 action plans that address six priority management needs, which was released in December 2008.
Jurisdictional Authorities of the Monument
Entering the monument is prohibited without prior notification (uninterrupted passage only), except where necessary to respond to emergencies threatening life, property, or the environment, or activities necessary for law enforcement purposes or armed forces actions.
The State of Hawaii, Department of Land and Natural Resources has stewardship responsibility for managing, administering and exercising control over coastal and submerged lands, ocean waters and marine resources under state jurisdiction out to three miles offshore of each of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, except Midway which was excluded by the Hawaii Statehood Act of 1959. The state currently manages the emergent lands and reefs at Kure Atoll as a State Wildlife Sanctuary. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has primary responsibility for management of the areas of the monument that overlay the Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge and the Battle of Midway National Memorial, as well as the terrestrial areas of the Hawaiian Islands National Wildlife Refuge. NOAA has primary management responsibility of the marine areas of the monument. NOAA has primary management responsibility of marine areas of the monument. A Memorandum of Agreement signed by all three trustees on December 8, 2006, created a jurisdictional regime where all parties share in the management, access and permissions to enter the monument, and which will normally require a consensus among all trustees for important decisions affecting the monument. The co-trustees have established a goal to provide a seamless and unified management in the spirit of cooperative conservation (71 FR 51134).
In coordination with the Secretary of Commerce, the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council is tasked with stewardship over fishery resources in the Exclusive Economic Zone (generally 3 to 200 miles offshore) surrounding the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, under the Magnuson Fishery Conservation and Management Act of 1976. The council has developed fishery management plans for bottomfish, crustaceans, pelagic fisheries and precious corals in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. Due to the regulations set forth in Proclamation 8031, which established the monument, some of these fisheries are now closed. In 1996, the Sustainable Fisheries Act made NOAA Fisheries in affiliation with the council also responsible for protecting essential fish habitat (NMSP 2005).
Special Preservation Areas and Ecological Reserves
Special Preservation Areas are discrete, biologically important areas of the monument (Figure 28). Uses within special preservation areas are subject to conditions, restrictions and prohibitions, including but not limited to access restrictions. Special preservation areas are used to avoid concentrations of uses that could result in declines in species populations or habitats, to reduce conflicts between uses, to protect areas that are critical for sustaining important marine species or habitats, or to provide opportunities for scientific research.
Ecological Reserves are areas of the monument consisting of contiguous, diverse habitats that provide natural spawning, nursery and permanent residence areas for the replenishment and genetic protection of marine life, and also to protect and preserve natural assemblages of habitats and species within areas representing a broad diversity of resources and habitats found within the monument.
The Special Preservation Areas cover a total area of 6,802 square miles, including the 924-square mile Midway Atoll Special Management Area. The Ecological Reserves cover a total of 37,762 square miles.
NOAA and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service monument regulations for special preservation areas and special management areas state that except due to emergencies and law enforcement activities, the following activities are prohibited without a valid permit:
- Discharging or depositing any material or other matter into special preservation areas or the Midway Atoll Special Management Area except vessel engine cooling water, weather deck runoff and vessel engine exhaust; and
- Swimming, snorkeling, or closed or open circuit SCUBA diving within any special preservation area or Midway Atoll Special Management Area.
Impacts of marine debris upon the ecological health of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands have not been fully documented due to the large size and remoteness of the region, as well as the historical and ongoing nature of the problem. Mortality as the result of entanglement in derelict fishing gear, primarily nets, has been documented for several mobile marine species in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands with impact upon the Hawaiian monk seal being of greatest concern due to its highly endangered status. In November 2006, NOAA Fisheries developed the Recovery Plan for the Hawaiian Monk Seal with the goal of assuring the long-term viability of the Hawaiian monk seal in the wild, allowing initially for reclassification to threatened status and, ultimately, removal from the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife (NMFS 2006).
On July 13, 2007, the monument was designated "in principle" as a Particularly Sensitive Sea Area by the International Maritime Organization, a Specialized Agency of the United Nations. Particularly Sensitive Sea Area designation will augment domestic protective measures by alerting international mariners to exercise extreme caution when navigating through the area. Additionally, as part of the designation process, in July 2007 the International Maritime Organization's Sub-Committee on Safety of Navigation approved U.S. proposals for the associated protective measures of: (1) the expansion and amendment of the six existing areas to be avoided in the area, which would enlarge the class of vessels to which they apply and augment the geographic scope of these areas as well as add new areas to be avoided around Kure and Midway atolls; and (2) the establishment of a ship reporting system for vessels transiting the monument, which is mandatory for US ships and foreign vessels (> 300 gross tons) entering or departing a U.S. port, and which is recommended for all other ships.
Ultimately, the monument's desired outcome is the elimination of marine debris and derelict fishing gear from the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. Complete elimination of marine debris in the near future is virtually impossible due to the financial cost, the size of the area and continual influx of new debris. However, removal of existing debris, detection and prevention of incoming debris, and education to prevent generation of more debris are the achievable strategies to reduce its overall impact. The following management strategies have been identified to reduce the impact of marine debris:
- Contributing to the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands marine debris removal effort and developing and implementing a five-year marine debris removal and prevention plan for the monument.
- Supporting NOAA Fisheries marine debris studies; working with the U.S. State Department to gain international cooperation and involvement for marine debris issues; working with the fishery management councils to address marine debris prevention with U.S. fishing fleets; and working with partners to continue to develop and implement an outreach strategy for marine debris.
- Exploring for, developing or producing oil, gas or minerals is prohibited within the monument.
- Except due to emergencies and law enforcement activities, discharging or depositing any material or other matter into the monument, or discharging or depositing any material or other matter outside the monument that subsequently enters the monument and injures any resources of the monument, except fish parts (i.e., chumming material or bait) used in and during authorized fishing operations, or discharges incidental to vessel use such as deck wash, approved marine sanitation device effluent, cooling water and engine exhaust is prohibited (71 FR 51134).
Diseases, Climate Change and Coral Bleaching
With coral reefs around the world in decline, the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands present a unique opportunity to characterize an intact coral reef ecosystem and to begin to understand the degree of natural variability in an ecosystem relatively free of local anthropogenic influences. Studying these remote ecosystems may also make an important contribution toward understanding the impacts of global climate change on coral reefs.
The monument's goal is to increase understanding of the distributions and functional linkages of marine organisms and their habitats in space and time to improve ecosystem-based management decisions. The following strategies have been identified to support continued characterization and monitoring of Northwestern Hawaiian Islands marine ecosystems:
- Assess and prioritize research and monitoring activities by: developing and implementing a prioritized research and monitoring plan for the monument and update annually; and coordinating meetings for research updates with researchers.
- Conduct research that supports ecosystem-based management by: continuing to characterize types and spatial distributions of shallow-water marine habitats; working with partners to map and characterize deep-water habitats; conducting a biogeographic assessment of Northwestern Hawaiian Islands living marine resources; implementing additional research priorities identified in the Monument Research and Monitoring Plan; and facilitating and supporting the development of ecosystem models.
- Conduct monitoring to understand ecosystem change over time by: assessing monitoring program protocols; formalizing a collaborative regional monitoring program for the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands; continuing to monitor at established sites in shallow-water coral reef; establishing a monitoring program for deep-water ecosystems; and collecting, analyzing and inputting research, monitoring and bathymetric data into appropriate databases to inform management decisions.
- Communicate results of research and monitoring by: coordinating an annual meeting to present current research being conducted in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands; prioritizing research, monitoring and modeling projects for education and outreach; including an educational component in all research expeditions; and using materials gathered and created during research expeditions to develop or enhance education and output products.
Because it is difficult, if not impossible, to determine whether an alien species will become invasive in a given environment, efforts must be made to prevent all alien species from entering Northwestern Hawaiian Islands ecosystems. Three strategies have been identified for achieving the desired outcomes of preventing alien species introductions and monitoring and controlling existing alien species in the monument:
- Prevent, monitor and control alien species introductions by: developing an interagency Northwestern Hawaiian Islands alien species plan to address prevention, control and response and develop best management practices; conducting hull inspections and cleaning for NOAA research vessels to prevent the introduction of marine alien species to the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands; developing a hull inspection and cleaning program for vessels operating under permit in special preservation areas to prevent the introduction of marine alien species to the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands; identifying, characterizing and monitoring populations of alien species; conducting research on alien species detection and control; and working with partners in responding to alien species introductions in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands.
- Engage monument users and the public in preventing the introduction and spread of alien species by: integrating alien species information into an overall outreach program for monument permittees and integrating alien species information into general monument outreach materials.
- Participate in statewide and Pacific regional alien species efforts by participating in statewide and international initiatives on alien species.
- Introducing or otherwise releasing an introduced species from within or into the monument is prohibited.
- Except due to emergencies and law enforcement activities, discharging or depositing any material or other matter into the monument is prohibited (see Marine Pollution for further details).
- Hull cleaning and inspections required for all vessels permitted to enter the monument
Existing NOAA, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and State of Hawaii regulations that address fishing activities within monument waters are:
- Using or attempting to use poisons, electrical charges or explosives in the collection or harvest of a monument resource is prohibited.
- Lobster fishing. The Presidential Proclamation has permanently closed the commercial lobster fishery within the monument.
- Fishing and bottomfish and pelagic species.
- Commercial fishing for bottomfish and associated pelagic species may continue within the monument subject to general requirements (below), until June 15, 2011, provided that: (i) the fishing is conducted in accordance with a valid commercial bottomfish permit issued by NOAA; and (ii) such permit was in effect on June 15, 2006, and is subsequently renewed pursuant to NOAA regulations.
- Total landings for each fishing year may not exceed the following amounts: (i) 350,000 pounds for bottomfish species; and (ii) 180,000 pounds for pelagic species.
- Commercial fishing for bottomfish and associated pelagic species is prohibited in the monument after June 15, 2011.
- General requirements. Any commercial fishing within the monument shall be conducted in accordance with the following restrictions and conditions:
- A valid permit or facsimile of a valid permit shall be on board the fishing vessel and available for inspection by an authorized officer;
- No attempt is made to falsify or fail to make, keep, maintain or submit any logbook or logbook form or other required record or report;
- Only gear specifically authorized by the relevant permit issued under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act is allowed to be in the possession of a person conducting commercial fishing under this section;
- Any person conducting commercial fishing notifies the Secretaries by telephone, facsimile or electronic mail at least 72 hours before entering the monument and within 12 hours after leaving the monument in accordance with federal regulations;
- All fishing vessels must carry an activated and functioning vessel monitoring system unit on board at all times whenever the vessel is in the monument;
- All fishing vessels must carry an observer when requested to do so by the Secretaries;
- The activity does not take place within any ecological reserve, any special preservation area or within either national wildlife refuge.
(71 FR 51134):
- Removing, moving, taking, harvesting, possessing, injuring, disturbing or damaging, or attempting to remove, move, take, harvest, possess, injure, disturb or damage any living or nonliving monument resource;
- Possessing fishing gear except when stowed and not available for immediate use during passage without interruption through the monument;
- Attracting any living monument resource
Vessel Hazards and Groundings
Vessel activities can introduce hazards to the marine environment. Some are biological in nature (e.g., the threat of alien species introductions and interactions with protected marine species). Other environmental threats from vessels include waste, effluent, and bilge and ballast water discharge, light and noise pollution, and anchor damage. Two strategies have been identified for achieving the desired outcome of preventing and reducing impacts of vessels operating in and transiting through Northwestern Hawaiian Islands:
- Address known vessel hazards and impacts by: developing protocols and practices for safe vessel operations with jurisdictional partners; informing monument users about hazards, regulations, permit requirements and compliance regarding vessel operations; investigating domestic and international shipping designations; and working with NOAA and the U.S. Coast Guard to update nautical charts and Notice to Mariners.
- Conduct research on vessel hazards and impacts by conducting a vessel threat assessment and conducting studies on vessel hazards and impacts.
Tourism and Recreation
Ocean-based ecotourism and recreation in their various forms can provide significant educational opportunities, build constituencies and provide assistance to natural resource managers. However, they can also lead to wildlife disturbance, habitat degradation and pollution. It is a goal of the monument to prevent, avoid or minimize negative human impacts associated with ocean-based ecotourism and recreation by allowing access only for those activities that do not threaten the natural character or biological integrity of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands ecosystem or Native Hawaiian cultural or maritime heritage resources. The Midway Atoll Visitor Services Action Plan, a section of the recently completed Monument Management Plan, guides visitor activities. The plan documents approved recreational activities at Midway Atoll and ensures that they are compatible with the mission and objectives of the refuge, the national memorial and the monument. A special ocean use permit could be issued for such activities meeting the specific requirements specified in the monument regulations. The monument co-trustees will continue to assess and manage recreation and ocean-based ecotourism activities by: working with the Interagency Coordinating Committee to identify locations that may be suitable for ocean-based ecotourism; tracking and assessing recreational activities; and developing outreach materials specific to recreational uses and integrating them into a permitting outreach program.
Existing NOAA and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service monument regulations that address tourism and recreation within monument waters are:
- Anchoring on or having a vessel anchored on any living or dead coral with an anchor, anchor chain or anchor rope is prohibited within the monument.
- Except due to emergencies and law enforcement activities, removing, moving, taking, harvesting, possessing, injuring, disturbing, damaging, or attempting to remove, move, take, harvest, possess, injure, disturb, or damage any living or nonliving resource; drilling into, dredging or otherwise altering the submerged lands other than by anchoring a vessel; constructing, placing or abandoning any structure, material, or other matter on the submerged lands; touching coral, living or dead; possessing fishing gear except when stowed and not available for immediate use during passage without interruption through the monument; and attracting any living resource is prohibited within the monument (71 FR 51134).
There are three federal acts, as well as multiple state statutes, that protect specific species in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. The federal acts are the Endangered Species Act, the Marine Mammal Protection Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. The Endangered Species Act of 1973 provides for the conservation of species at risk of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of their range and the conservation of the ecosystems on which they depend. The Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972 established a moratorium, with certain exceptions, on the taking of marine mammals in U.S. waters and by U.S. citizens on the high seas, and on the importing of marine mammals and marine mammal products into the United States. The Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 implements various treaties and conventions between the United States and Canada, Japan, Mexico and the former Soviet Union for the protection of migratory birds.
Although endangered and threatened species are not the direct responsibility of the monument, coordination with agencies responsible for their welfare and recovery is necessary to ensure that activities taking place in the monument, and monument management, are effective in protecting and enhancing populations of those species. To support efforts to enhance protected species in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, the monument has identified two strategies for achieving this goal:
- Coordinate with partners on protected species needs by communicating regularly with jurisdictional agencies on protected species issues and assisting in the development and implementation of a protected species threat reduction assessment for the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands.
- Support and facilitate research on protected species by identifying research needs and supporting research to enhance populations of protected species and incorporating new data on candidate and protected species into the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands biogeographic assessment database.
Maritime Archaeological Resources
Proposed strategies and associated activities in the monument action plan are designed to increase our understanding of maritime heritage resources and foster effective and protective management in the monument. These strategies are as follows:
- Document and inventory maritime heritage resources. Preserving and appreciating maritime heritage resources begins with documentary research and field inventory surveys. These activities are similar to those associated with ecosystem research. Both involve consolidation of past information, diving operations, and mapping or remote sensing surveys. Maritime heritage field surveys are therefore compatible with multidisciplinary research missions.
- Incorporate maritime heritage into public education and outreach. Raising public awareness of the maritime heritage field is essential to better valuing and protecting the resource. Protection comes through understanding the nature of maritime heritage resources, as well as familiarity with established preservation efforts. Education and outreach for maritime resources emphasize "bringing the place to the people, not the people to the place" in a responsible manner.
- Coordinate monument agency efforts to protect maritime heritage resources. Because of NOAA's previous maritime heritage work in the region, efforts to inventory, evaluate, interpret and preserve maritime heritage resources in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands will be coordinated from the Pacific Islands regional office by NOAA maritime heritage staff and conducted in close collaboration and coordination between NOAA, the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Each program or agency provides expertise in the joint preservation of these non-renewable resources.
Existing NOAA and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Monument RegulationsExcept where necessary to respond to emergencies threatening life, property, or the environment or activities necessary for law enforcement purposes or armed forces actions, the following activities are prohibited throughout the monument:
- Removing, moving, taking, harvesting, possessing, injuring, disturbing, or damaging; or attempting to remove, move, take, harvest, possess, injure, disturb, or damage any living or nonliving monument resource (71 FR 51134).
State and Federal Preservation LawsA number of established laws govern the protection and management of maritime heritage resources. The Abandoned Shipwreck Act of 1987 charges each state with the preservation management for "certain abandoned shipwrecks, which have been deserted and to which the owner has relinquished ownership rights with no retention." In the State of Hawaii the preservation and protection of historic properties on state submerged lands falls under HRS Chapter 6E, which established the State Historic Preservation Program. For both NOAA and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, preservation mandates for maritime heritage resources derive directly from elements of the Federal Archaeology Program, including the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966. Section 110 of the Act states that each federal agency shall establish a preservation program for the protection of historic properties. Other relevant preservation guidelines include the Antiquities Act of 1906, Archaeological Resources Protection Act of 1979, National Environmental Policy Act of 1982, the Preserve America Executive Order (EO 13287 2003), and the Sunken Military Craft Act of 2004. These laws codify the protection of heritage sites from illegal salvage and looting. NOAA's Maritime Heritage Program and the monument's Maritime Heritage Action Plan are specifically designed to address these preservation mandates and both inventory and protect these special resources for the benefit of the public.
Native Hawaiian Cultural Resources
Native Hawaiian practices exercised for subsistence and other cultural purposes are based on a value system that is consistent with resource protection and preservation and serve as long-term conservation measures. The monument has identified a strategy and associated activities to support Native Hawaiian subsistence, cultural and religious practices in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands:
- Review Native Hawaiian practices permit applications and track and monitor permitted activities.
- Support Native Hawaiian practices by: supporting Native Hawaiian cultural research and education; developing outreach for those planning expeditions for Native Hawaiian practices; and seeking assistance from permittees to share lessons learned from their experiences.
- Support Native Hawaiian cultural and historical research by: identifying cultural research needs and priorities; supporting Native Hawaiian cultural research of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands; identifying ways of integrating Native Hawaiian traditional ecological knowledge and management concepts into monument management, and; seeking protective status, as appropriate, to protect cultural sites.
- Provide cultural outreach and educational opportunities to the Native Hawaiian community and the general public by: integrating Native Hawaiian values and cultural information into a general outreach and education program; developing a culturally based strategy for education and outreach to the Native Hawaiian community; integrating Native Hawaiian values and cultural information into a monument permittee education and outreach program; and facilitating cultural education opportunities in the field for students, teachers and cultural specialists.