Friends of the Mariana Trench Celebrate Public Participation in Management Plan

The Friends of the Mariana Trench thank the community for engaging in the recent public commenting process for the draft management plan for the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument.

We also congratulate the CNMI government on its robust response to the draft management plan. The Friends were impressed and heartened by the thoughtful comments written by our elected officials and government agencies. Finally, we thank the local and national NGOs, scientists, and former federal government employees who took the time to participate.

“I can’t emphasize enough how important it is for our community to participate and comment on federal documents when given the opportunity,” said Sheila Babauta, Chair of Friends of the Mariana Trench and Chair of the CNMI legislature’s Natural Resources Committee. 

“I’m so grateful for all the efforts by the Friends of the Mariana Trench to gather, educate, and assist community members during the comment period of the draft management plan.”

US Fish and Wildlife Services and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration first released the draft management plan for the Monument in February of this year. The Friends ensured professional reviews of the draft by scientific experts and community development consultants. The collective input was condensed into a key take-aways reference sheet geared toward the public and offered information about the plan’s content, strengths, and weaknesses. 

“We often say we want a seat at the table,” Chair Babauta said about federal plans for the Northern Marianas. “This is one way to take advantage of that and voice your concerns, state your support, or ask questions.”

The Friends leveraged their website and social media to spread awareness of the Monument draft management plan and commenting process; hosted watch parties on Saipan and Tinian to allow community members from all islands to participate in federal virtual meeting sessions; performed outreach at the Ocean Fairs on Saipan and Rota and during Project Liffang, an entrepreneurial fair hosted by the United Carolinians Association in collaboration with the Carolinian Affairs Office and the CNMI Women’s Association; and held twelve public comment workshop sessions.

The Friends also received capacity support from the members of the National Ocean Protection Coalition and the Blue Nature Alliance in support of engaging the community during the comment process.

“Aside from our national partners, we would like to thank the Marianas Alliance of Nongovernmental Organizations and their staff for making their resource room available for our daily workshops,” said executive director, Laurie Peterka. “Last but definitely not least, a BIG shout out to all of FOMT staff for their hard work in organizing the watch parties, providing outreach booths at events, and presenting at the workshops too!”

Public Commenting Workshops

Speech-Bubble-Business-Cardv.2

The Marianas Trench marine protected area is an ocean sanctuary that honors our traditions, our shared connection and our obligation to our ocean. The marine protected area secures our lifeblood and our provider, for us and for every generation to come.

Right now we have a unique opportunity to voice ourselves and stand up for our ocean. The federal government has published a draft management plan and is asking our people for input. This opportunity to shape the protection of the Marianas Trench marine protected areas is a once-in-a-decade window, and it is crucial that our community is heard. 

Friends of the Mariana Trench are hosting workshops to help our community with preparing their own public comments. The Friends are here to help you get your voice counted. 

Select a date and time that works best for you and register today

July 12 – July 25MANGOGUMA SAKMAN
M/W/F5-7pmN/A
T/TH11am – 1pmN/A
SAT/SUNN/A10am – 2pm

Commenting on the Management Plan: A Step-by-step Guide

Time is going by quickly – take action today!

The Mariana Trench Marine National Monument Draft Management Plan is out for public comment until July 26, 2021. Which means as of today, we have about less than a month left to comment on the Plan.

The Monument is not an underwater statue, but rather an ocean sanctuary. In a world brimming with threats to our oceans, the Mariana Trench Marine National Monument is a safe haven for marine life. The amount of untapped resources in the Monument are dwarfed by its untapped potential to advance our understanding of life on Earth. 

And we in the Marianas are its fortuitous guardians.

It is crucial that we use this federal comment period to share our thoughts on the Draft Management Plan. Managing the Trench would simply be incomplete without input from our indigenous people, whose years of knowledge encompass a deep relationship with the ocean.

How do I write a public comment?

Step 1. Get to know the Monument and the Draft Management Plan. Find out how you feel about the federal government’s approach to managing this important marine protected area. You can read more about the Monument here and view the actual Plan here. Our website is another great place to learn about the Draft Management Plan.

Step 2. Check out this sample language to help you get started on writing your public comment. Feel free to use this template and include your own thoughts about the Plan:

“I support the adoption and implementation of a management plan for the Mariana Trench Marine National Monument. I support the six goals stated in the current plan. The final version should reflect a plan to best achieve and support those goals. 

Throughout the history of the Mariana Islands and its people there has been a tradition of protecting and preserving our ocean to maintain balance and be sure our ocean can heal and continue to provide. The Mariana Trench Marine National Monument and the management plan are an opportunity to continue that tradition. 

[If applicable: As a _________ (indigenous Chamorro/Carolinian/other oceanic people) I support the Monument and the management plan because it aligns with the history of designating sacred and protected spaces to allow our ocean and its creatures a chance to heal.]

It is essential that a final management plan be adopted and implemented, and that it: 

  • Be current and reflect current science and all that we know today, not rely on data from 10 or 15 years ago
  • Ensure accountability and transparency by affording people easy access to information such as permits and guaranteeing local oversight and regular opportunities for evaluation of management actions
  • Be fully accessible to all CNMI communities with summaries and fact sheets translated into Chamorro and Carolinian 

The ocean sanctuary and the management plan will secure an essential lifeblood and provider for all the people of the CNMI and for every generation to come. I encourage the swift adoption and implementation of a plan that aligns with the goals of the draft plan and the priorities listed above.”

Step 3.  Keep track of the Friends of the Mariana Trench’s social media pages. In the very near future we’ll be announcing some opportunities to learn how to submit a public comment on the Plan.

Follow us! We’re on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Chairwoman Sheila Babauta to speak at Capitol Hill Ocean Week

Friends of the Mariana Trench is pleased to announce that board Chair and Precinct 4 Representative Sheila Babauta will be representing the CNMI as a speaker for Capitol Hill Ocean Week (CHOW) in Washington, DC. 

“We are part of the Pacific, therefore any conversations happening around ocean health, ocean sustainability, ocean recovery,” said Representative Babauta, “These are conversations we really need to be a part of because we have such an intimate connection with the ocean.”

CHOW is an annual conference in Washington, D.C. that has been convening members of Congress, Administration officials, state and local governments, scientists, scholars, business executives, nonprofit leaders, and the public for an annual dialogue on ocean science, policy, and conservation for the past twenty years. 

According to organizers, “Chow 2021 will focus on building a more racially equitable and just movement for our ocean and Great Lakes.”

“This year’s conference is an opportunity to examine how systemic racism negatively impacts conservation, science, and policy, and how strengthening justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion will improve the sustainability of our ocean, coasts, Great Lakes, and the communities that depend on them.”

Rep. Babauta will represent the CNMI on a panel titled “Strengthening Resource and Climate Change Engagement in the U.S. Territories”.  The Honorable Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan will also offer opening remarks at this year’s virtual session.

“I am very excited about the invitation from the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation,” Rep. Babauta said about the event. “I am looking forward to engaging in dialogue about how we can better protect our oceans and really share our experience and our relationship with the ocean here in the CNMI.”

The panel will also feature representatives from the other US territories: Guam, Puerto Rico, American Samoa, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Voice your support for our ocean: Comments needed on the Mariana Trench Marine National Monument Management Plan

This deep-sea holothurian was observed swimming on Dive 05 at Fina Nagu Caldera D.
(NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research, 2016 Deepwater Exploration of the Marianas)

Check out the video: HERE


The Marianas Trench marine protected area is an ocean sanctuary that honors our traditions, our shared connection and our obligation to our ocean. The marine protected area secures our lifeblood and our provider, for us and for every generation to come.


Right now we have a unique opportunity to voice ourselves and stand up for our ocean. The federal government has published a draft management plan and is asking our people for input. This opportunity to shape the protection of the Marianas Trench marine protected areas is a once-in-a-decade window, and it is crucial that our community is heard. Show up and be heard at any of the following virtual public information sessions:
 
Tinian, June 2 https://noaanmfs-meets.webex.com/noaanmfs-
meets/onstage/g.php?MTID=e50b8a7805dc30183c17822b48e3913d9

Call-in option: US Toll +1-415-527-5035; Access code: 199 773 3862
 
Rota, June 3 https://noaanmfs-meets.webex.com/noaanmfs-
meets/onstage/g.php?MTID=e97db3c69cc501cf881bd6b61b0266993

Call-in option: US Toll +1-415-527-5035; Access code: 199 284 6500
 
Saipan, June 8 https://noaanmfs-meets.webex.com/noaanmfs-
meets/onstage/g.php?MTID=ed062a9a6af545489e80e8cb980d5b57d

Call-in option: US Toll +1-415-527-5035; Access code: 199 320 4912
 
Guam, June 10 https://noaanmfs-meets.webex.com/noaanmfs-
meets/onstage/g.php?MTID=ef00b670746bd088d2fd679a0478765e9

Call-in option: US Toll +1-415-527-5035; Access code: 199 558 2463
 
All four meetings will be held from 5:30 – 7:00 p.m. ChST.

Use Webex meetings password: trench

For information on how to join a Webex meeting, visit the Webex webpage or the Webex Help Center.
 
Visit the NOAA Fisheries and USFWS webpages for more info.

Preparing your questions for Management Plan Info Sessions | 6/1/2021

Virtual info sessions for the Mariana Trench Marine National Monument Draft Management Plan are happening over several days during the next two weeks!

Do you want to know more about the Management Plan, but don’t know where to begin? You can start with topics that matter to you the most — whether it’s fishing, culture, or science.

Follow these steps to find out how the Management Plan affects your priorities:

  1. Click here to open the Draft Management Plan.
  2. Open the Search tool:
    1. On Windows: Type Ctrl + f on your keyboard.
    2. On Mac: Type ⌘ + f  (or Command + f) on your keyboard
  3. The Search tool opens a small window on your screen where you can enter the word(s) you want to find. Type in any subject of your choice – the tool will highlight all parts of the Management Plan where that word appears!

Even if you have no questions about the Management Plan, we invite you to learn more about the Plan at any of the upcoming virtual info sessions. Check out this blog post for the full schedule and meeting links!

TurnKey Solutions | Web Developer

WhatsApp Image 2021-05-14 at 7.05.51 PM

Web Developer

TurnKey Solutions is a local CNMI consulting firm that specializes in customized web development / design, database development & management, search engine optimization, and data analytics utilizing the latest technology trends. We are innovators that are passionate about enabling our clients the opportunity to optimize their existing business or government operations while providing actual real time customer service. In today’s fast paced world, people need online solutions that are reliable, responsive, and functional on all platforms. TurnKey Solutions provides 24/7 customer support and is located in the CNMI with dedicated servers in the US Mainland. 

We strive to know what our customers want the most and leverage what each specific organization does best and focus on connecting where they can both meet.