TAKE ACTION: Resist Trump’s Attack on Marine National Monuments
Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross
President Trump recently signed an executive order that opens the door to eliminating or shrinking the nation’s monuments that have been protected by previous presidents, including four marine monuments in the Pacific Ocean.
This unprecedented move threatens ocean wildlife and our shared marine heritage. No president has ever attempted to revoke a predecessor’s monument designation—until now.
If we let President Trump succeed, every future president’s power to protect our nation’s greatest natural and historic treasures in perpetuity will be greatly diminished.
But you can make a difference. The Department of Commerce is allowing the public to weigh in to save our oceans for just a few short weeks—through August 15.
Join us and tell the Trump administration that Americans want special places in the ocean to remain protected—for good.
PERSONALIZED COMMENTS ARE CRITICAL IN THIS PROCESS. If you live in the Pacific states of Hawai’i, California, Oregon, or Washington, please mention this in the comments section to the right.
If you have more than a few minutes, please consider submitting a comment for each of the national marine monuments threatened by Trump’s executive order:
If you only have a couple of minutes, no problem. Every comment counts! Just submit the letter below.
Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross
From: [Your Name]
I oppose any rollback of protections of marine national monuments placed under review by President Trump’s Executive Orders 13792 and 13795.
I strongly support the Papahānaumokuākea, the Pacific Remote Islands, the Rose Atoll, and the Marianas Trench Marine National Monuments as they were originally designated. Please do not modify their boundaries, management, or allowed uses.
Our marine national monuments help define who we are as a nation by telling the story of our historical, cultural, and natural heritage. I am extremely disappointed that President Trump’s order attempts to undermine our marine national monuments. What’s more, attempts to rollback protections for marine national monuments would be illegal.
Legal scholars agree: No president currently has the legal authority to eliminate or significantly alter a national park or national monument. Only Congress has the authority to abolish or diminish a national monument. And, no president has ever attempted to revoke a predecessor’s monument designation.
What’s more, each of the monuments was created citing adequate scientific, cultural, and historic rationale, as required by the Antiquities Act. In addition, each monument underwent a robust public process. And finally, the monuments demonstrably cause no harm to the economy, specifically the longline fishing industry.
The waters of the four Pacific marine monuments protect some of the world’s most stunning marine areas. They contain thousands of species, many of which are endangered and found nowhere else on earth.
Papahānaumokuākea and the Pacific Remote Islands are home to the largest seabird rookery on the planet with 14 million birds from 22 different species and the world’s remaining population of the Hawaiian monk seal. Their ecosystems contain pristine coral habitats, including deep-sea reefs home to 4,000 year old black coral—one of the world’s oldest living organisms.
The Marianas Trench is the "Grand Canyon" of the ocean and includes some of the deepest known areas on earth. The region is geologically very complex; active volcanoes and thermal vents support unusual life forms, many of them yet to be discovered, in some of the harshest conditions on earth. And its waters are among the most biologically diverse, including the highest density of sharks anywhere in the Pacific.
The Rose Atoll is one of the most pristine atolls in the world, supporting a dynamic reef ecosystem that is home to a diverse assemblage of marine species. It provides isolated nesting grounds for green and hawksbill turtles, and species that have faced depletion elsewhere are found in abundance at Rose Atoll, including giant clams, Maori wrasse, large parrotfishes, and reef sharks.
The Papahānaumokuākea and the Pacific Remote Islands marine national monuments also hold great cultural and historical significance. The Northwestern Hawaiian Islands are considered a sacred place and the area is used for traditions such as long-distance voyaging and wayfinding, which relies on undisturbed elements of the natural environment. Both monuments were also important battlegrounds during WWII, specifically at the pivotal Battle of Midway.
Although not required for monuments designated under the Antiquities Act, the monuments underwent extensive public consultation processes. In fact, there were unprecedented levels of engagement resulting in overwhelming support for the monuments.
For example, during the public comment period for the Pacific Remote Islands monument 1,500 Hawai‘i residents wrote letters of support letters, complemented by one million letters of support from around the world including more than 135,000 U.S. citizens. More than 200 scientists who have worked in the Pacific, 200 Pacific practitioners, 30 Hawaiʻi non-profits, and 35 Hawaiʻi businesses, signed on to letters of support.
Another example is Papahānaumokuākea, which has one of the richest bipartisan conservation histories of any protected area on Earth. Over the past 110 years seven U.S. Presidents have taken action to protect the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands and its unique ecosystems and wildlife. Prior to its designation in 2006, it was debated at more than 30 public hearings and over 100 community meetings, and prompted approximately 100,000 letters to federal and state officials. Prior to its expansion in 2016, more than 135 community meetings were held across the state by supporters and nearly 1.5 million letters and petitions in support of the expansion were submitted, including 8,100 hand-signed petitions and 3,600 online petitions from Hawai‘i constituents. This support far outweighed the amount of opposition.
The longline fishing industry is the main opponent to the monuments, claiming that they are bad for business. But this is not true. In fact, the catch and profits have been rising. For example, the industry’s own catch data shows that the year following the expansion of the Pacific Remote Islands produced a record haul. According to Hawaii’s Senator Brian Schatz, 2016 was even better than 2015 and 2017 may rival both. “Our fishery had their best year ever last year and is on track to do even better this year so the idea that this diminished either their profitability or our ability to eat fish has been laid to waste.”
Finally, the Hawaii-based longline fishery is managed using a quota system that is negotiated each year at the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) based on the best available science data. Thus, the monuments affect where the fishing boats can fish, but not how much they can fish. At the end of the day, what matters most is how much fish is landed at the dock, not where the fish was caught.
I strongly recommend the protections for the Pacific marine monuments remain in place, permanently, to preserve our country’s natural and cultural heritage. An attempt to roll back protections for one marine monument would be an attack on them all. Sending a signal that protections for our shared history and culture are not permanent would set a terrible precedent, suggesting that our history and natural wonders are negotiable.