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

Call-in option: US Toll +1-415-527-5035; Access code: 199 773 3862
Rota, June 3

Call-in option: US Toll +1-415-527-5035; Access code: 199 284 6500
Saipan, June 8

Call-in option: US Toll +1-415-527-5035; Access code: 199 320 4912
Guam, June 10

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

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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.

Emma Perez | 500 Sails / Cultural Activities Coordinator

emma perez

Co-Founder 500 Sails / Cultural Activities Coordinator

Emma Perez is co-founder and President of 500 Sails, a Northern Mariana Islands non-profit organization dedicated to bringing traditional canoe culture back into the daily lives of the people of the Marianas. Emma moved from San Francisco, California to Saipan with her husband Pete Perez in 2013 in order to establish 500 Sails where her 30 years of non-profit finance and accounting experience, including oversight of millions of federal funds, have been critical to the organization’s success. In addition to heading the business operation, she develops programs, writes and manages grants, conducts outreach, develops partnerships in both government and private sectors, and teaches swimming and sailing to 500 Sails program participants. 

Her programmatic work started in earnest when she was part of the all-Chamorro, all-family Chamorro Flying Proa English Channel Relay Team that successfully swam the English Channel in 13 hours and 7 minutes in 2007.  This was done to raise funds for the 47-foot Chamorro Sakman Che’lu that was subsequently built and has become part of the 500 Sails’ fleet.

Emma’s work as a Chamorro cultural leader is well-known in the Marianas and has earned her numerous accolades, including the Guam Governor’s Ambassador at Large award in 2012 for her work promoting Guam’s cultural heritage, and most recently the 2019 Northern Mariana Islands Governor’s Humanities Award  for “Outstanding Humanities Teacher”.  While her work has touched many lives in the Marianas, what she has often said what she is most proud of is that for the first time after hundreds of  years, children born in the Marianas will have canoes in their lives, all their lives. 

Becky Furey | MINA / Ocean Camp Coordinator



Becky Furey is the Program Director for the Mariana Islands Nature Alliance (MINA). She is a Saipan-native with over eight years experience working in the nonprofit sector, grants and program management, and building local capacity in natural resource management and environmental stewardship. Her passion for the environment drives her to help MINA continue conservation efforts throughout the CNMI. Coming from a family of sea-faring people, it was only natural that she would desire to explore and protect the CNMI’s natural resources. Her time with MINA, her concern for the natural environment, and her passion for working with communities to ensure the island’s way of life, led her to complete a Master of Science degree in Environmental Policy & Management.