St. Lucy's Priory High School

Why expanding Papahānaumokuākea is controversial

On Aug. 26, President Obama announced that the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument (PMNM) will grow to 582,578 square miles, making it the world’s largest marine preserve. PMNM will quadruple in size, allowing protection for over 7,000 marine species living at the site.

The proposition will help preserve the organisms that are only found in the Hawaiian archipelago and allow fish stocks to replenish themselves.

U.S. Senator Brian Schatz, who submitted the proposal in June of this year, commented, “The other thing it does is that it continues to put us on the map with respect to leading on climate solutions.”

Expand Papahānaumokuākea, the organization that leads the way in enlarging the marine sanctuary, states that Papahānaumokuākea has a much larger meaning than just climate control. Native Hawaiians believe every piece of nature has meaning.

“All resources in nature – from corals to sharks – have cultural significance for Native Hawaiians and are an embodiment of our ancestors,” commented the coalition. They also hope that the expansion will show younger generations that preserving the environment is almost like preserving their traditions.

So why is there such a heated debate over the sanctuary?

Once the expansion goes into effect all commercial activities will have to stop. This presents a huge blow to the fishing industry. With over 60% of the Hawaiian waters preserved, it proves to be a challenge to catch the bigeye tuna, the main species of fish caught and exported from Hawaii.

“We do not believe the expansion is based on the best available scientific information. It serves a political legacy rather than any conservation benefits to pelagic species such as tunas, billfish, sea turtles, seabirds and marine mammals,” claims Kitty Simonds of the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council (WPRF.)

WPRF are not the only ones who feel Obama overstepped his power. Obama used the Antiquities Act to approve the monument, as he did in Maine earlier this year.

The Antiquities Act allows presidents to create national landmarks by presidential proclamation, which most see as an overextension of power.

Obama has used this act to protect 548 million acres of both land and water to help promote a presidency of conservation.

home header Why expanding Papahānaumokuākea is controversialHopefully, despite controversy, this act will help protect the unique marine life in Hawaii and restore the vitality of the island’s ocean.

–Gianna Ceccarelli


  • Reply Rick MacPherson August 30, 2016 at 2:09 pm

    Not as much controversy as this story purports. The expand Papahānaumokuākea effort was overwhelmingly supported by the people of Hawaii. The single voice of opposition came from commercial fishing interests and their lobbyists with a financial stake in fewer protections placed upon the ocean. Scientists estimate that we must establish at least 30% of the ocean under no-take protection in order to ensure fishing remains sustainable and ocean ecosystems can function effectively. This expansion brings us to less than 3%. We still have a long way to go. Commercial extraction of any kind will indeed stop within the expanded Papahānaumokuākea Monument, but expansion waters represent 5% of the HI tuna longline QUOTA BASED catch; An annual quota that the industry filled in six months (record time) this year. And expansion will benefit Hawaii’s nearshore, pono fishermen who will reap the benefits of a larger no-take reserve.


    • Reply Sassmaster August 30, 2016 at 5:34 pm

      Gee wow thanks mr. Smartypants…


    • Reply Ricky Harrison August 30, 2016 at 9:19 pm

      Take it easy man, the tag line for the website says, “For Students, By Students”. This is not a platform for grown men to criticize teenagers. If you want to push your liberal agenda on teenagers,, take your sorry life to some other website. The LA Times set the HS Insider up so teenagers can have their writing skills recognized., not so they can push their beliefs down other people’s throats. The article just explains why people think the expansion is controversial. Although the article is in the “opinion” section of the site , it is obvious the author was just trying to write an objective article, as there is little to no bias throughout the article. In fact, the last sentence is the only biased statement, and it just agrees with the what you believe in. Next time, you should read the entire article instead of the headline before getting triggered by a teenager. I’m absolutely disgusted by your pathetic behavior. You don’t deserve to be in a place as relaxing and calm as Hawaii right now, (I looked you up on Twitter, deal with it) you should be working a dead end job at a pawn shop in Vegas.


      • Reply Rick MacPherson August 30, 2016 at 9:30 pm

        Truth matters, whether student or seasoned professional. If you disagree, that’s your prerogative. But thanks for validating the quality perspectives and intellect that lurks in the comments section.


  • Reply Harambe's Dad August 30, 2016 at 4:02 pm

    Have you seen my son?


  • Reply Nate Yuen August 30, 2016 at 5:19 pm

    That is an exaggeration. The longline fishing industry catches on average 8% of its yearly catch within the expanded boundaries of Papahanaumokuakea National Monument. In the short term they can make it up fishing elsewhere in the vast expanse of the Pacific Ocean. In the long run, the protected area will act as a nursery to replenish the fisheries and enable endangered species to recover. Let’s revisit this issue when the fishing industry releases the report of its catch next year — the true impact on the long line fishing industry will be apparent.


    • Reply Rick MacPherson August 30, 2016 at 5:29 pm

      5% in expansion waters is according to public records from NOAA official reports of HI commercial longline landings. And the same complaints about negative impacts to fishermen were heard when expansion was proposed for Pacific Remote Islands. Fishery seems to be doing just fine.


  • Reply Concernedforyoursafety August 30, 2016 at 5:37 pm

    This was very informative and not at all subjective. Good objective point of view. Hoping all goes well in Packawakanu.


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