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Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument facts for kids

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Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument
IUCN Category V (Protected Landscape/Seascape)
Green turtle Palmyra Atoll National Wildlife Refuge.jpg
Green sea turtle at Palmyra Atoll National Wildlife Refuge
Location Central Pacific Ocean
Area 313,818,892 acres (1,269,980.00 km2)
Created January 6, 2009 (2009-January-06)
Administrator Kate Toniolo, Superintendent, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Website Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument
Eez monument 4 6 2011
The previous (2011) boundaries of the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument are outlined in light blue.
Soldierfish, Baker Island NWR
Soldierfish, Baker Island NWR
Grey reef sharks,Pacific Remote Islands MNM
Grey reef sharks, Pacific Remote Islands MNM

The Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument is a group of unorganized, mostly unincorporated United States Pacific Island territories managed by the Fish and Wildlife Service of the United States Department of the Interior and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) of the United States Department of Commerce. These remote refuges are "the most widespread collection of marine- and terrestrial-life protected areas on the planet under a single country's jurisdiction". They protect many endemic species including corals, fish, shellfish, marine mammals, seabirds, water birds, land birds, insects, and vegetation not found elsewhere.

History

The Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument was proclaimed a national monument on January 6, 2009, by U.S. President George W. Bush and follows his June 6, 2006, creation of the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. The original area was about 83,000 square miles (210,000 km2). It was expanded on September 25, 2014 by U.S. President Barack Obama. The monument covers 490,343 square miles (1,269,980 km2), spanning areas to the far south and west of Hawaii: Kingman Reef, Palmyra Atoll, Howland Island, Baker Island, Jarvis Island, Johnston Atoll, and Wake Island. At Howland Island, Baker Island, Jarvis Island, Palmyra Atoll, and Kingman Reef the terrestrial areas, reefs, and waters out to 12 nautical miles (22 km; 14 mi) (radius) are part of the National Wildlife Refuge System. For Kingman Reef and Palmyra Atoll and Howland Island and Baker Island, fishery-related activities seaward from the 12 nmi (22 km) refuge boundaries out to the 50 nmi (93 km) NMM boundary (about 100 nmi (190 km) square across) are managed by NOAA. For Jarvis Island, Johnston Atoll, and Wake Island fishery-related activities seaward from the 12 nmi (22 km) refuge boundaries out to the 200 nmi (370 km) NMM boundary (U.S. EEZ waters) are managed by NOAA. The land areas at Wake and Johnston Atolls remain under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Air Force, but the waters from 0 to 12 nmi (22 km) are protected as units of the National Wildlife Refuge System. The entire monument is closed to commercial fishing and other resource extraction activities, such as deep sea mining.

The monument includes endemic trees, grasses, and birds adapted to life at the equator; the rare sea turtles and whales and Hawaiian monk seals that visit Johnston Atoll; and high-quality coral reefs. U.S. federal law prohibits resource destruction or extraction, waste dumping, and commercial fishing in the monument areas. Research, free passage, and recreation are allowed.

On June 17, 2014, U.S. President Barack Obama proposed using his executive powers to expand the marine protected area to 782,000 square miles (2,030,000 km2). Sport fishing is exempt and public comments were solicited. He then signed a proclamation on September 25, 2014, expanding the monument to six times its original size, resulting in 490,343 square miles (1,269,982 square kilometers) of protected area around these tropical islands and atolls in the south-central Pacific Ocean. Expanding the monument protected the deep coral reefs, seamounts, and marine ecosystems unique to this part of the world, which are also among the most vulnerable areas to the impacts of climate change and ocean acidification. Specifically, it expanded the boundaries to the 200 nmi EEZ for Wake Island, Johnston Atoll, and Jarvis Island, while leaving the 50 nmi boundaries for Kingman Reef and Palmyra Atoll and Howland and Baker Islands.

In September 2017, Trump Administration U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke recommended that the boundaries of the monument be reduced by an unspecified amount.

Geography

Location and area

The following islands form the basis of the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument:

Climate

Susan White, Monument Superintendent, Pacific MNM
Susan White, Operations Superintendent, holding a young red-footed booby, 2014

Because the islands are scattered throughout the ocean, the climate is different on each island. Baker, Howland, and Jarvis Islands have an equatorial climate, with scant rainfall, constant wind, and burning sun. Johnston Atoll and Kingman Reef have a tropical climate, but are generally dry, with consistent northeast trade winds with little seasonal temperature variation. Palmyra Atoll has a hot, equatorial climate. Because the atoll is located within the low pressure area of the Intertropical Convergence Zone where the northeast and southeast trade winds meet, it is extremely wet with between 4,000–5,000 mm (160–200 in) of rainfall each year.

Population

Although the islands have no permanent residents, the seven islands that make up the Pacific Remote Islands are stepping stones that connect Hawaii to Micronesia, and other Polynesian sea voyaging cultures. The voyage from Hawaii to neighboring Marshall Islands once included a stop at Johnston Atoll. Wake Atoll is geographically, culturally, and historically linked to the people who live in the Republic of the Marshall Islands. Kingman, Palmyra, Jarvis, Howland, and Baker are connected to the Republic of Kiribati. Voyaging and culture link all of these islands.

Wake has a current transient population of ca. 125 military personnel and contractors. Johnston Atoll had a peak population of 1,100 military and civilian contractor personnel in 2000, but it was evacuated by 2007. Since 2010, volunteer biologists live and work on the island in groups of 5. Four to twenty Nature Conservancy and U.S. Fish and Wildlife staff live at Palmyra Atoll at any one time. The four other islands are usually uninhabited.

Public entry to the islands is by special-use permit from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and is generally restricted to scientists and educators. Only Wake Island, Palmyra Atoll and Johnston Atoll have serviceable runways; Jarvis, Baker and Howland Islands had airstrips in earlier times but they have long been abandoned and are no longer operational.

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