We are proud to support the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation 501 earmarked for marine debris clean up of Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument and towards maintenance of its many significant Hawaiian cultural sites.
Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument is the single largest conservation area under the U.S. flag and was inscribed as a mixed (natural and cultural) World Heritage Site; a profoundly wonderful place with an exceptional array of natural and cultural resources. It covers an area of nearly 600,000 square miles as one of only 28 mixed (natural and cultural) World Heritage Sites in the World.
The near pristine remote reefs, islands, and waters of Papahānaumokuākea provide refuge and habitat for over 7,000 marine species, one quarter of which are found only in the Hawaiian Archipelago and is one of the last predator-dominated coral reef ecosystems on the planet; manō (sharks) and ‘ulua (jacks) dominate the underwater landscape. The region also provides critical nesting and foraging grounds for 14 million seabirds making it the largest tropical seabird rookery in the world.
On less than six square miles of land over 14 million seabirds representing 22 species breed and nest. Land areas also provide a home for four species of bird found nowhere else in the world, including the world's most endangered duck, the Laysan duck.
Papahānaumokuākea’s globally significant natural attributes incorporate its living, indigenous, cultural connections to the sea––where modern Hawaiian wayfinders (non-instrument navigators) still voyage for navigational training on traditional double-hulled sailing canoes.
Papahānaumokuākea is of great cultural importance to Native Hawaiians with significant cultural sites found on the islands of Nihoa and Mokumanamana, both of which are on the National and State Register for Historic Places. Mokumanamana has the highest density of sacred sites in the Hawaiian Archipelago and has spiritual significance in Hawaiian cosmology.
The Monument Vision is to forever protect and perpetuate ecosystem health and diversity and Native Hawaiian cultural significance of Papahānaumokuākea.
The major form of marine pollution both inside and outside of Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument boundaries is marine debris. As with many marine ecosystems around the world, marine debris is a constant threat to certain components of the ecosystems of Papahānaumokuākea. Although no commercial or recreational fishing is permitted in Papahānaumokuākea’s waters, derelict fishing nets and gear, plastics and other ocean-borne debris are concentrated by ocean currents and wash up on the reefs and beaches of the property. Entanglement in marine debris has been identified as a major threat to the endangered Hawaiian Monk Seal; debris entanglement also threatens sea turtles, seabirds, cetaceans and coral reef organisms. An ongoing multi-agency marine debris clean-up program has removed more than 586 tons of debris from the property in the past ten years. Fishing elsewhere in the Pacific has the potential to harm Papahānaumokuākea’s highly migratory marine species, such as tuna, sharks, seabirds, and marine mammals that may otherwise forage or travel outside of the Papahānaumokuākea’s protective boundaries. Birds are also harmed by debris. Smaller types of marine debris made of plastic, such as disposable lighters, bottle caps, and other fragments, are ingested by adult albatrosses, shearwaters, and other seabirds when they feed at sea. These objects are subsequently fed to chicks and can cause direct and indirect injuries, often resulting in the death of young albatrosses. Marine Debris
Hawaiian Voyaging and Wayfinding
Today, Papahānaumokuākea’s cultural landscape, dominated by the ocean, plays a critical role in two major living traditions of Native Hawaiians: Hawaiian voyaging and wayfinding. The voyaging route between Kaua‘i (in the main Hawaiian Islands) and Nihoa and Mokumanamana is used today as the best training ground for apprentices of Hawaiian wayfinding, non-instrument navigation, before undertaking a long, open ocean voyage beyond the archipelago. At Papahānaumokuākea, an array of attributes unique in the archipelago makes the area “the ideal training platform” for novice Hawaiian wayfinders (Nainoa Thompson 4 October 2008, personal communication).
Apprentice navigators are challenged to sail to Nihoa from Lehua, a small, crescent shaped island near Kaua‘i and Ni‘ihau. Oral histories document that this navigational test was used in generations past; it is an ideal route for a novice navigator to prove new skills in reading the celestial and ocean environment (Maly 2003). The navigator must find an island that cannot be seen on the horizon, but is still within a relatively short sail from the safety and provisions of a larger island.
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