The Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument is the single largest conservation area under the U.S. flag, and one of the largest marine conservation areas in the world. It encompasses 139,797 square miles of the Pacific Ocean (362,073 square kilometers) - an area larger than all the country's national parks combined.
Papahānaumokuākea was established by Presidential Proclamation 8031 on June 15, 2006 under the authority of the Antiquities Act (16 U.S.C. 431-433). The Monument was expressly created to protect an exceptional array of natural and cultural resources. On July 30, 2010 Papahānaumokuākea was inscribed as a mixed (natural and cultural) World Heritage Site by the delegates to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization's (UNESCO) 34th World Heritage Convention in Brasilia Brazil (click here to learn more).
The extensive coral reefs found in Papahānaumokuākea - truly the rainforests of the sea - are home to over 7,000 marine species, one quarter of which are found only in the Hawaiian Archipelago. Many of the islands and shallow water environments are important habitats for rare species such as the threatened green turtle and the endangered Hawaiian monk seal. 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 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 (learn more). Papahānaumokuākea is also home to a variety of post-Western-contact historic resources, such as those associated with the Battle of Midway, and 19th century commercial whaling (learn more).
The name Papahānaumokuākea is more than just a Hawaiian word to add flavor to the name of the Monument. Papahānaumokuākea has great significance and meaning. In addition, the process of how the name was chosen is equally as important. For more information and audio files to help understand and pronounce the name, click here.
The Monument Vision is to forever protect and perpetuate ecosystem health and diversity and Native Hawaiian cultural significance of Papahānaumokuākea.
The Monument Mission is to Carry out seamless integrated management to ensure ecological integrity and achieve strong, long-term protection and perpetuation of NWHI ecosystems, Native Hawaiian culture, and heritage resources for current and future generations.
To provide the most effective management of Papahānaumokuākea, Governor Linda Lingle, Secretary of Commerce Carlos M. Gutierrez, and Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) on December 8, 2006, which provided for coordinated administration of all the Federal and State lands and waters within the boundaries of the Monument.
Click here to view information and maps of the sanctuaries, refuges and reserves under the management of each respective Co-Trustee agency.
The Monument encompasses the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands and is administered jointly by three co-trustees – the Department of Commerce through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries and National Marine Fisheries Service Pacific Islands Regional Office; Department of the Interior through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Pacific Region National Wildlife Refuge System and Pacific Islands Fish and Wildlife Office; and the State of Hawai'i through the Department of Land and Natural Resources' Division of Aquatic Resources and Division of Forestry and Wildlife.
Co-trustee agencies, in cooperation with the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, manage the Monument together to protect the entire ecosystem from remote sub-tropical islands to the deep sea.
An excellent introduction to the Monument and general overview of the region is contained within our Citizen's Guide, click here to download a copy. (PDF)
More detailed information from the U.S. Nomination of Papahānaumokuākea
Marine National Monument for World Heritage Inscription,
January 2009 can be found on the following pages:
To find out more about management of the Monument please visit our management area.
Click here for the Monument Management Plan
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Mahalo! (Thank You) for your continued interest and support.