Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument

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Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument
IUCN category V (protected landscape/seascape)
Location Pacific Ocean
Area 49,292,696 acres (199,480.46 km2)[1]
Created January 6, 2009 (2009-January-06)
Governing body U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

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.[2][3] These remote refuges are "the most widespread collection of marine- and terrestrial-life protected areas on the planet under a single country's jurisdiction".[2][3] They protect many endemic species including corals, fish, shellfish, marine mammals, seabirds, water birds, land birds, insects, and vegetation not found elsewhere.

The Pacific Remote Islands National Marine Monument was proclaimed a national monument on January 6, 2009 by U.S. President George W. Bush.[2][3] The monument covers 77,020 square miles (199,500 km2),[1] 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 all of the areas, 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 the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. 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 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, 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 are welcomed by the administration. [4]


Location and area[edit]

The following islands constitute the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument:


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 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.


The islands have no indigenous inhabitants. Wake had a population of ca. 150 military personnel in 2009. Johnston Atoll had a peak population of 1,100 military and civilian contractor personnel in 2000, but it was evacuated by 2007. Four to twenty Nature Conservancy and U.S. Fish and Wildlife staff live at Palmyra Atoll. 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 Palmyra Atoll has a serviceable runway; Baker Island, Howland Island, and Johnston Atoll had airstrips in earlier times but they have since been abandoned and are no longer operational.

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