Friends recognize the NOAA Sanctuaries public outreach efforts

NOAA National Marine Sanctuaries office is seeking public comments related to the 5-year review of the National Marine Sanctuary designation for the Mariana Trench Marine National Monument. The Environmental Sustainability and Stewardship Stakeholder Meeting conducted by the Natural Resources Committee in the House chamber hosted NOAA Sanctuaries to give attendees the opportunity to comment or ask questions yesterday, February 1, 2022.

As the original nominator for the sanctuary designation, the Friends of the Mariana Trench presented its plans for the renewal process and shared its three overarching points for the public’s consideration.

First, the Friends are not planning to make substantive changes to the nomination but will propose changing the name. The Mariana Trench is world famous but today it seems more appropriate to put more emphasis on the stewardship of the people who have called this place home for more than 4,000 years. To this end, the Friends are interested in hearing from our community for renaming suggestions.

Second, the Friends want to stress the importance of co-management with the federal government in any proposed National Marine Sanctuary. There should be significant discussion about which CNMI agencies and/or indigenous groups should be engaged in co-management.

Third, the Friends are not proposing any additional restrictions for small fishing vessels homeported in Guam, Saipan, Tinian, or Rota, nor will the proposal affect any existing commercial offshore fisheries. It is important, however, to address foreign and illegal fishing within the sanctuary if the nomination is moved to the next step (designation).

The ocean is our oldest ancestor and the ultimate provider. It is a source of sustenance, a place of celebration, and a pillar of our traditions. When the ocean thrives, our traditions thrive too.

It’s in this spirit that we welcome NOAA Sanctuaries efforts to provide opportunities for public participation in the consideration of the Mariana Trench sanctuary nomination 5-year review.

NOAA Sanctuaries is hosting a virtual public meeting on February 12, 2022, at 10:00 am ChST. To register for this event visit

Alternatively, if you would like to meet up and with us, the Friends are hosting a watch party at the Marianas Alliance of Non-governmental Organizations (MANGO) resource room. We will meet a little bit early to answer questions and hang around after for those who want to talk about it more. Refreshments and snacks will be available. If you would like to attend the watch party, please RSVP to Joleen Salas at (670) 483-3668 (call, text or WhatsApp) or you can send an email to