The Friends of the Mariana Trench remain vigilant in monitoring the federal government’s progress on getting a management plan published for the Mariana Trench Marine National Monument (MTMNM). The Friends endeavor to work diligently to keep the CNMI community informed of information as it becomes available.
The long-awaited draft management plan was finally published in the federal register in late February 2021, after COVID-19 caused further delays preventing action in late 2020; and 10 years after its original due date. Initially, the public commenting period would close on May 25, 2021, but on May 24, 2021 notice was published in the federal register extending the comment period to July 26, 2021.
The MTMNM management plan, according to the original monument designation, was due within the first two years of the monument’s formation. In May of 2011, four months after the final deadline for completion of MTMNM’s management plan, USFWS published their first update regarding the plan.
They released a second planning update in February of 2012, and a third in March of 2013. In 2014, USFWS published their fourth planning update, which included a schedule for a Visitors Center Working Group public listening session, published fishing regulations, and draft goals. After a series of communications challenges in the years in between 2014-2017, USFWS finally delivered a draft management plan to Governor Torres in January of 2020.
Partners: Office of the Governor, Department of Interior’s US Fish & Wildlife Service and the Department of Commerce’s NOAA Fisheries program.
June 2021 – The FOMT host watch parties on Tinian and Saipan to give people a chance to attend a federal listening session. Listening sessions were held virtually during the first two weeks of June. To our knowledge, these were not well attended with the exception of the watch parties organized by the FOMT.
May 2021 – Public meeting schedule. Meetings scheduled to answer questions about the management plan.
NOAA Fisheries and USFWS are hosting four virtual meetings in June to provide community-focused opportunities for anyone interested in learning more about the draft plan. NOAA Fisheries and USFWS staff will be available to answer questions regarding the plan during these informational meetings. All four meetings will be held from 5:30 – 7:00 p.m. ChST. Participants can attend virtually or via phone, as follows. For information on how to join a Webex meeting, visit the Webex webpage or the Webex Help Center.
Use Webex meetings password: trench to join.
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
March 2021 – Draft management plan made public for commenting; originally public comments were due May 26, but the new date issued by the federal government is July 26, 2021.
January 2020 – Draft management plan provided to Governor Torres’ administration for review; public meetings anticipated in November 2020, but delayed due to COVID
September 2014 – US Fish and Wildlife publishes their fourth planning update on developing a management plan, including a schedule for a Visitor Center Working Group Public Listening session, published fishing regulations, and draft goals.
March 2013 – National Wildlife Refuge Service (NWRS) in partnership with National Marine Fisheries Services (NMFS) publish their summary of findings from 2012 public scoping meetings from Saipan, Tinian, Rota and Guam.
February 2012 – US Fish and Wildlife publish their second planning update on developing a management plan and announce dates for public scoping meetings.
May 2011 – US Fish and Wildlife published their first planning update on developing a management plan, four months after said plan was supposed to be complete.