Public comment sought on proposed national marine sanctuary in Papahānaumokuākea

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The National Oceanic Atmosphere Administration has released for public comment its draft proposal to designate marine portions of Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument as a national marine sanctuary.

The proposed Papahānaumokuākea National Marine Sanctuary would supplement and complement existing authorities, including the area’s designation as a marine national monument, which will continue to be in effect.

Map of proposed sanctuary in Northern Hawaiian Islands. (Photo courtesy: NOAA)

NOAA is proposing a sanctuary area approximately 582,250 square miles. The agency’s preferred boundary is coextensive with the marine portions of the monument. The boundary includes the marine environment surrounding the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands from the shoreline of the islands and atolls seaward to 200 nautical miles, including all state waters and waters of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Coral Reef Ecosystem Reserve, Midway Atoll and Hawaiian Islands National Wildlife Refuges, and state of Hawaiʻi Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Marine Refuge.

A detailed description of the proposed sanctuary can be found on the website for the proposed Papahānaumokuākea National Marine Sanctuary.


Public comment on the proposal will be accepted through May 7. Additionally, NOAA and the state of Hawaiʻi will co-host meetings to gather public input.

A virtual meeting will take place on April 6 from 9 a.m. to noon. Click here to register.

Two in-person meetings will also be held on the Big Island. The first will be on April 15 at Mokupāpapa Discovery Center, 76 Kamehameha Ave, in Hilo, from 5 to 8 p.m.


The second meeting will take place on April 16 at Kamehameha Schools, Kahaluʻu Ma Kai campus, 78-6780 Ali’i Drive, in Kailua-Kona, also from 5 to 8 p.m.

Virtual or in-person meetings may end before the time noted above if all participants have concluded their oral comments.

Comments may also be submitted through the following methods:


Electronic Submission: Submit all electronic comments via the Federal eRulemaking Portal. Go to and search for docket NOAA-NOS-2021-0114. Click the “Comment Now!” icon, complete the required fields, and enter or attach your comments. Comments will be accepted in both English and ʻōlelo Hawai‘i (Hawaiian language).

Send any hard copy public comments by mail to PMNM-Sanctuary Designation, NOAA/ONMS, 1845 Wasp Blvd., Bldg 176, Honolulu, HI 96818.

For more information on the proposed sanctuary, see the Federal Register notice or

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