The Friends of the Mariana Trench is holding a series of free management plan public commenting workshops until Monday, July 26, to assist members of the community who are looking to comment on the proposed plans to protect the Mariana Trench Marine National Monument.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife, and NOAA Fisheries are soliciting for public comments on the Draft Marianas Trench National Monument Management Plan and Environmental Assessment, and the last day to submit is on July 26.
The two federal agencies, in cooperation with the CNMI government, prepared the draft management plan, which intends to provide “a blueprint for managing activities and resources within the Monument, in accordance with the conservation direction of its establishment.”
Six goals are laid out on the plan. These include primarily, the conservation and protection of the marine ecosystems around the islands of Farallon de Pajaros, Maug, and Asuncion; including 21 of the Mariana Ridge undersea volcanoes and thermal vents, and the geologic features and life forms in the Mariana Trench.
The other goals include providing for traditional access to the Monument by the indigenous people of CNMI and Guam for culturally significant, subsistence, and religious uses; and the development of education, interpretation, and outreach programs to enhance understanding and appreciation of the Mariana Trench.
Another goal is to assess and promote scientific exploration and research, and the adoption of measures to ensure that the Monument’s ecosystems and marine resources are not degraded; assess and provide compatible opportunities for tourism, recreation, and economic ventures; and to contribute to the recovery and protection of all native species.
To meet these goals, 11 action plans are proposed, which included marine resource conservation and monitoring; access and permitting; sustainable non-commercial fishing; cultural and maritime heritage; and public outreach, among others.
Three alternatives are set based on these action plans, for the next 15 years—Alternative 1 is the “no action” alternative where current management activities in the Monument are to continue; Alternatives 2 and 3 both would involve all proposed action plans, but with differing schedule of activities.
To learn more about the plan, or to register for the free workshop to get help in commenting, contact the Friends of the Mariana Trench at (670) 483-3668 or email email@example.com.