The Papahānaumokuākea National Marine Monument — the largest contiguous fully protected conservation area under the U.S. flag and the largest marine conservation area in the world — has been awarded more than $1 million in funding to its Papahānaumokuākea Research and Conservation Fund.
The announcement was made by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.
It’s been a decade since Papahānaumokuākea was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site. The archipelago, northwest of the Hawai’ian Islands, stretches for more than 1,200 miles, with its 582,578 square miles made up of islands, reefs and atolls.
The waters are home to thousands of species of fish and wildlife that’s unique to the area, such as the Hawaiian monk seal, green sea turtle and Laysan albatross.
“This slate of grants shows the breadth of the resources and the threats that managers are working to conserve and handle on a daily basis in a remote landscape,” said NFWF executive director and CEO Jeff Trandahl in a statement. “From addressing illegal fishing and albatross bycatch, to marine debris and the loss of haul-out habitat for monk seals and turtles, the challenges in the Monument are significant and varied, but the resources we are protecting are extraordinary.”
Even as isolated as the islands are — Papahānaumokuākea is at the near center of the Pacific Ocean — the site faces threats from pollution, illegal fishing activity and the ill-effects of climate change such as coral bleaching and sea level rise.
The funding will help address efforts here and current management challenges at the remote island chain.
"By leveraging these funds, we can continue the research and management work we need to protect Papahānaumokuākea, one of our most important natural resources. This private and federal funding will help us better understand and conserve the monument and our ecosystem. I look forward to seeing the results of the research," said U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii).
Details on individual grants awarded through the Papahānaumokuākea Research and Conservation Fund can be found here.