This initial report on resource status and trends for the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument indicates the need for management actions that address potential impacts of key habitats, degrading conditions of some living resources (Hawaiian Monk seals, resident seabirds and migratory shorebirds), a general need to increase knowledge of regional biodiversity, and enhanced research and discovery of marine archaeological resources. Although the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands are often referred to as remote and relatively pristine, only seven of the seventeen categories received the highest rating of good. The factors contributing to these slightly diminished rankings suggest areas of focus for management actions, including marine debris, the health of threatened and endangered species, and research on the impacts of climate change. Only three categories were rated as fair (the lowest ranking assigned to any of the categories for the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands), suggesting that the overall condition of these ecosystems is good relative to the more heavily impacted reefs of the main Hawaiian Islands.
Although the monument currently limits permitted human activity, Midway Atoll is open to a limited number of visitors. The Midway Atoll Visitor Service Action Plan, a section of the recently completed Monument Management Plan, guides visitor activities. Visitor activities, when possible, assist with management and conservation activities the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands.
Archeological resources in the monument are an important link to the history of this area. Loss of these resources by natural processes is difficult to mitigate. In order to preserve the artifacts and history, it is therefore important to identify, locate and document these resources.
An important focus of the monument will be to continue to recognize and perpetuate the unique relationship of native Hawaiians to the land, sea and their cultural traditions. The monument can facilitate this relationship by serving as a catalyst for strengthening the bond between the Hawaiian people and the lands and waters of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. Incorporating traditional values and ecological knowledge into the natural resource management of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands will be an important part of all management initiatives in this region.