Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument
From NOAA Fisheries website:
Location and Size
The Pacific Remote Islands Monument area consists of approximately 489,989 square miles (1,269,066 square kilometers) in the central Pacific Ocean. It encompasses seven islands and atolls: Baker, Howland, and Jarvis Island; Johnston, Wake, and Palmyra Atoll; and Kingman Reef.
The Monument includes 165 known seamounts that are hotspots of species abundance and diversity. It is one of the most pristine tropical marine environments in the world, and vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and ocean acidification.
Established by Presidential Proclamation in January 2009 and expanded through Presidential Proclamation in 2014, the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument is cooperatively managed by the Secretary of Commerce (NOAA) and the Secretary of the Interior (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service), with the exception of Wake and Johnston Atolls, which are currently managed by the Department of Defense. National Wildlife Refuges also exist at each of the islands within the Monument, with Howland, Baker, and Jarvis designated as Refuges in 1974; Johnston in 1926; and Kingman and Palmyra in 2001.
The Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument sustains a diversity of species including corals, fish, shellfish, marine mammals, seabirds, land birds, insects, and vegetation not found anywhere else in the world. Many threatened, endangered, and depleted species thrive in the area, including the green and hawksbill turtles, pearl oysters, giant clams, reef sharks, coconut crabs, groupers, humphead and Napoleon wrasses, bumphead parrotfish, dolphins, and whales.
Johnston Atoll is an ancient atoll (probably one of the oldest in the Pacific Ocean) that’s comprised of Johnston, Sand, North, and East Islands. It’s the northernmost point of the Line Islands archipelago. Johnston supports at least 45 coral species, including a thriving table coral community and a dozen species found only in the Hawaiian and northern Line Islands. Large populations of seabirds, sea turtles, whales, and reef sharks are found here as well.
Part of the Line Islands chain, Palmyra Atoll and Kingman Reef are also remnants of volcanoes from some 65–120 million years ago. Kingman is the most undisturbed coral reef within the United States, complete with a greater proportion of apex predators (sharks and jacks) than any other studied coral reef ecosystem in the world. Palmyra Atoll, which consists of about 50 islets and a few lagoons, supports breeding populations of 11 species of seabirds, including one of the largest red-footed booby colonies in the world and the largest black noddy colony in the Central Pacific.
Many nationally and internationally threatened, endangered, and depleted species thrive at Palmyra and Kingman, including sea turtles, pearl oysters, giant clams, reef sharks, coconut crabs, fishes, and dolphins. Both Palmyra Atoll and Kingman Reef support higher levels of coral diversity (180–190 species) than any other atoll or reef island in the central Pacific.
Made up of Wake, Wilkes, and Peale Islands, Wake Atoll is the northernmost atoll in the Marshall Islands geological ridge and perhaps the oldest living atoll in the world. In addition to being an active U.S. Air Force airfield, the atoll provides important seabird and migratory shorebird habitat, as well as vibrant coral reefs that support large populations of fishes in the monument waters. More than 300 fish species and 100 coral species thrive on the shallow coral reefs, along with giant clams, marine turtles, and spinner dolphins.
Howland, Baker, and Jarvis Islands hug the Equator and were formed as fringing reefs around small islands built by volcanoes some 65–120 million years ago. They support grasses adapted to the arid climate at the Equator and host colonies of 15 different breeding seabird species, some with population sizes of international significance.
Beyond the shallow fringing reefs and terraces, the slopes of the extinct volcanoes drop off sharply to the deep floor of the equatorial Pacific Ocean. Here, counter currents create localized, nutrient-rich upwelling in the shallows near the islands that result in high fish biomasses. These remote and rarely visited reefs are characterized by a large proportion of apex predators in the fish community; giant clams, sharks, and sea turtles are also abundant.
Looking to the Future
As pristine and beautiful as these islands may be, they’re not free from climate change, ocean acidification, and other anthropogenic (human-caused) effects. NOAA and partnering scientists have documented a mass coral bleaching event at Jarvis Island with an estimated 90–95 percent coral mortality (documented in May 2016). Efforts continue to assess the ecological impacts and recovery of this coral bleaching event, which was associated with the 2014 and 2015 El Niño event.
NOAA and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are working to prepare a Monument management plan that addresses climate change and all threats to the ecosystem and integrates management and conservation of the National Wildlife Refuges located within the Marine National Monument at each of the Pacific Remote Islands.
The islands afford unique opportunities to conduct climate change research at the equator; far from population centers. The coral skeletons there have recorded the earth's climatic history for millennia. The Pacific Remote Islands contain some of the most pristine coral reefs in the world, and Monument status ensures these special areas are conserved.
This expanded the existing Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument from 83,000 square miles to 490,000 square miles. To protect the whales, seabirds, sea turtles, fishes and corals in this region of the central and western Pacific Ocean, commercial fishing and mineral extraction will now be prohibited in this national monument. The expanded monument is now the largest protected area on the planet (land or sea). It encompasses the seven islands and reefs of Wake, Johnston, Baker, Howland, Kingman, Jarvis and Palmyra, as well as the ocean around them.
On January 16, 2009, the Secretary of the Interior delegated his management responsibilities for the monument to the Fish and Wildlife Service through Secretary’s Order 3284. Through this order, the Secretary extended the boundaries of Howland Island, Baker Island, Jarvis Island, and Johnston Atoll National Wildlife Refuges to 12 nautical miles from the mean low water line of each island. He also established a Wake Island Unit of the monument to be managed as a unit of the National Wildlife Refuge System out to 12 nautical miles from the mean low water line of the islands, with the Department of the Air Force continuing to manage the emergent lands as described above.
Recreational fishing by military personnel and civilian contractors occur at Wake Atoll. Johnston and Wake Atolls are the last exclusive US Department of Defense controlled atolls in the Pacific. Wake Atoll houses a small workforce of about 100 personnel and operates in support of periodic missions for missile defense testing. The base at Johnston Atoll was closed in 2003, with removal of most buildings completed in 2004.
"The Secretary of Commerce, through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and in consultation with the Secretary of the Interior, shall have primary responsibility for management of the monument seaward of the area 12 nautical miles of the mean low water lines of Wake Atoll, with respect to fishery-related activities regulated pursuant to the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.) and any otherapplicable legal authorities.
The Secretaries of Commerce and the Interior shall not allow or permit any appropriation, injury, destruction, or removal of any feature of this monument except as provided for by the proclamation and shall prohibit commercial fishing within boundaries of the monument. However, the Secretary of Defense shall continue to manage Wake Atoll, according to the terms and conditions of 1972 Agreement between the Secretary of the Interior and Secretary of the Air Force, unless and until such Agreement is terminated. Until termination of the 1972 Agreement between the Department of Defense and the Department of Interior- the Department of Defense will continue to management the terrestrial portions of the Wake Atoll until jurisdiction of the Atoll is returned to the Department of the Interior."
FISHING MANAGEMENT PLAN for WAKE ATOLL (Feb 2015)
Bottomfish, crustacean and coral reef fisheries in the Pacific Remote Island Areas (PRIA) occur at a relatively low level due to their remote isolation, jurisdictional status and existing federal regulations. Recreational fishing at Palmyra Atoll is being developed through The Nature Conservancy with special interest in flying fishing for bonefish. The recent renovation of the airstrip, and construction of vessel re-provisioning facilities by a fishing venture, may promote increased fishing activity in and around Palmyra Atoll and Kingman Reef. Recreational fishing by military personnel and civilian contractors occur at Johnston and WakeIslands.
In 1998, two Hawaii-based troll and handline vessels, and one demersal longline vessel targeting sharks, fished in the EEZ around Palmyra and Kingman Reef. These vessels targeted both pelagic and bottomfish species, including yellowfin and bigeye tuna, wahoo, mahimahi, deep slope snappers and sharks. Trips in 1999 targeted the two-spot snapper, Lutjanus bohar, at Kingman Reef. Fishing stopped after results of a single specimen submitted for testing showed slight traces of ciguatera.
A few fishermen have expressed interest in fishing for lobsters in the PRIA, and at least two have attempted it. However, tropical lobsters (green spiny, P. penicillatus) do not enter traps readily. A lobster harvest exploration in 1999 in Palmyra and Kingman waters was unsuccessful. This venture is also believed to have attempted to target the red crab (Chaceon spp.) and deep-water shrimp (Heterocarpus sp.).
Coral Reef Fisheries
Nearshore fishing has occurred at Johnston Atoll, Wake Island and Palmyra Atoll. The catch at these locations is primarily surgeonfish, goatfish, rudderfish, wrasses, parrotfish and soldierfish. Several outbreaks of ciguatera reported on Johnston have been attributed to dredging operations. This has limited the take of fish for food, although catch and release is still common. Palmyra Atoll is surrounded by extensive reef flats on all sides in addition to the interior lagoon that are ideal for fly fishing for bonefish, which is promoted through The Nature Conservancy programs.
Presidential Proclamation --- Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument Expansion: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2014/09/25/presidential-proclamation-pacific-remote-islands-marine-national-monumen
White House Fact Sheet on 2014 Expansion: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2014/09/24/fact-sheet-president-obama-designate-largest-marine-monument-world-limit
Our report on the proposed expansion: http://www.marine-conservation.org/media/filer_public/filer_public/2014/06/17/primnm_expansion_report.pdf
from wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pacific_Remote_Islands_Marine_National_Monument
Original data record from US MPA Center.