Looks like you have a little more time to make official comments on the Trump Administration’s efforts to shrink a variety of national marine sanctuaries and monuments, one of which is the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has graciously extended the public comment period for a little more than two weeks.
Here’s the notice from NOAA, posted on July 26:
NOAA will formally reopen the public comment period on a Department of Commerce review of 11 designations and expansions of national marine sanctuaries and marine national monuments that began June 26, 2017. Due to public interest and requests for additional time, NOAA will formally accept comments for an additional 15 days, starting Monday, July 31.
Additionally, NOAA will continue to accept comments between the first formal comment period closing July 26 and the formal reopening to ensure the public has maximum opportunity to participate in this review process. Comments submitted during the original comment period will be considered and do not need to be resubmitted.
Comments will continue to be accepted through August 15.
Six national marine sanctuary expansions and five marine national monument designations and expansions are part of this review.
In 2006, President George W. Bush established the monument, located in the Northwest Hawaiian Islands, at 140,000 square miles. A decade later, President Barack Obama, at the behest of U.S. Senator Brian Schatz, expanded the monument to 583,000 square miles (click here for our 2016 story on this). According to this Aug. 26, 2016 National Geographic story on the expansion, the monument is home to a huge variety of sea life:
Papahānaumokuākea is a sanctuary for endangered species, including blue whales, short-tailed albatrosses, sea turtles, and the last Hawaiian monk seals. It contains some of the world’s northernmost and healthiest coral reefs, considered among the most likely to survive in an ocean warmed by climate change. The seamounts and sunken islands of its deeper waters are inhabited by more than 7,000 species, including the oldest animals on Earth—black corals that have lived for more than 4,000 years.
The expansion decision “strikes the right balance at this time for the waters surrounding the Hawaiian Islands, and it can be a model for sustainability in the other oceans of planet Earth,” Hawaii Governor David Ige said at the time.
The easiest way to comment is to start by clicking here. At press time, the monuments review shows the government has so far received more than 74,000 comments from members of the public.
Photo of monk seal and turtle napping in the Papahānaumokuākea monument: Mark Sullivan/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service