East Hawaii News

Papahānaumokuākea Representatives Gather in Celebration of a Decade

February 9, 2016, 3:35 PM HST
* Updated February 9, 4:01 PM
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Over 200 representatives of marine managed areas gathered on Monday to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument.

The monument is one of the largest marine conservation areas in the world and it is the first and only natural and cultural UNESCO World Heritage Site in the United States.

Monday’s gathering was held in collaboration with Big Ocean, a network of the world’s large-scale marine managed areas.

Papahānaumokuākea was created at a time where less than one percent of the ocean was protected. Now, there are 16 large-scale marine protected areas around the world, making up more than 3.4 million square miles.

Big Ocean is bringing managers, cultural practitioners, policy-makers, donors and scholars together this week in Honolulu for a conference entitled “Think Tank on the Human Dimensions of Large-Scale Marine Protected Areas.”


Participants in the conferences are exploring the social, cultural, political, institutional and economic considerations, and priorities of LSMPAs in support of furthering best-practices for these vast sites.


Papahānaumokuākea is cooperatively managed by state and federal agencies with input from advisory and cultural groups and successfully integrates traditional and western science approaches to research and management.

The monument’s vision and mission expressly value the importance of protecting both natural and cultural heritage as a management imperative – an approach to conservation that has earned the site international acclaim.

Managers’ efforts to engage and involve Native Hawaiian people, communities, and perspectives have helped mainstream conservation beyond science, species, and habitat.


Monday night’s gathering also recognized elders who have since passed, but not before lending their wisdom and helping translate their knowledge into management plans that now guide conservation and research efforts.

The Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Marine National Monument was established by Presidential Proclamation 8031 under the Antiquities Act on June 15, 2006.

A year later, it was given its Hawaiian name, Papahānaumokuākea. The monument encompasses 139,797 square miles (362,073 km2) of the Pacific Ocean – an area larger than all of the country’s national parks combined.

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