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Where Do We Go From Here?: Expansion of the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument

Where Do We Go From Here?: Expansion of the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument

Angela Warner

In September 2014, President Obama expanded the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument (PRIMNM) to include 490,000 square nautical miles in the south-central Pacific Ocean, making it the largest marine protected area (MPA) in the world.[1] While this is a positive step in terms of ocean conservation, this MPA will be part of a larger disjointed system of MPA management in the United States.[2] This Note examines some of the weaknesses of the PRIMNM and explores solutions for strengthening MPA management in the United States based on Australia’s Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, the U.S. Coastal Zone Management Act, and California’s Marine Life Protection Act.[3]

MPAs have been shown to protect ocean ecosystems and resources.[4] There are thousands of MPAs around the world.[5] Australia was one of the first countries to establish a strong network of MPAs in its waters.[6] Australia’s MPA network is divided into regional projects, and these MPAs are primarily managed for biodiversity conservation.[7] The United States has more than 1,600 MPAs, which range in size and level of protection.[8] California’s MPAs are managed under the 1999 Marine Life Protection Act.[9]

In 2009, President Bush established the PRIMNM through Proclamation 8336.[10] President Obama’s expansion of the PRIMNM in September 2014 via Proclamation 9173 increased the total area of the PRIMNM but maintained the monument management structure established under President Bush’s proclamation.[11] Organizations involved in management of the PRIMNM include the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council, the Pacific Islands Regional Office of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center of NOAA, and the Pacific Islands Regional Planning Body.[12]

This Note identifies the following weaknesses in the PRIMNM management structure: a lack of coordination between agencies, a lack of enforceability for marine planning, and a lack of funding. The Note concludes by examining international, national, and state models for strengthening the U.S. system of MPA management and offering recommendations for a new U.S. legal framework for MPA management.

Questions and inquiries regarding this Note may be forwarded to the author at LawReview@vermontlaw.edu.


 

[1] Press Release, The White House, Office of the Press Sec’y, Fact Sheet: President Obama to Designate Largest Marine Monument in the World Off-Limits to Dev. (Sept. 24, 2014), available at http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2014/09/24/fact-sheet-president-obama-designate-largest-marine-monument-world-limit.

[2] Federal MPA Legislation, Nat’l Marine Protected Areas Center, http://marineprotectedareas.noaa.gov/aboutmpas/programs/federallegislation/ (last visited Apr. 17, 2015).

[3] Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act), Austl. Gov’t Dep’t Env’t, http://www.environment.gov.au/epbc (last visited Apr. 17, 2015); Coastal Zone Management Act, Nat’l Oceanic & Atmospheric Admin. (1972), available at http://coast.noaa.gov/czm/act/; Cal. Fish & Game §§ 2850–63 (2012), available at http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/cgi-bin/displaycode?section=fgc&group=02001-03000&file=2850-2863.

[4] Kim Diana Connolly et al., Marine Protected Areas, in Ocean and Coastal Law and Policy 535, 537 (Don Baur et al. eds., 2008).

[5] Nat’l Marine Sanctuaries, MPAs: An Overview 1-1, available at http://sanctuaries.noaa.gov/management/pdfs/overview_mod1_curr2.pdf.

[6] Jennifer L. Schorr, The Australian National Representative System of Marine Protected Areas and the Marine Zoning System: A Model for the United States?, 13 Pac. Rim L. & Pol’y J. 673, 674–75 (2004).

[7] Australia’s Marine Protected Area Network, Marine Res. Coalition, http://www.marinereservescoalition.org/resources/marine-reserves-around-the-world/australias-marine-protected-area-network/ (last visited Apr. 17, 2015).

[8] Marine Protected Areas, Nat’l Ocean Service (June 9, 2014), http://oceanservice.noaa.gov/ecosystems/mpa/.

[9] California Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), Cal. Dep’t Fish & Wildlife, http://www.dfg.ca.gov/marine/mpa/index.asp (last visited Apr. 17, 2015).

[10] Proclamation No. 8336, 74 Fed. Reg. 1,565 (Jan. 6, 2009), available at http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/WCPD-2009-01-12/pdf/WCPD-2009-01-12-Pg14.pdf.

[11] Proclamation No. 9173, 79 Fed. Reg. 58,645 (Sept. 25, 2014) available at http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2014-09-29/pdf/2014-23319.pdf.

[12] About Us, W. Pac. Regional Fishery Mgmt. Council, http://www.wpcouncil.org/about-us/ (last visited Apr. 17, 2015); The Pacific Islands Regional Office of the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), NOAA Fisheries, http://www.fpir.noaa.gov/ (last visited Apr. 17, 2015); About the Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center, NOAA Fisheries, http://www.pifsc.noaa.gov/about_us.php (last visited Apr. 17, 2015); Pacific Islands Regional Planning Body, http://pacificislandsrpb.org/ (last visited Apr. 17, 2015).  

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