Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Marine monuments will support military’s needs


President Bush says the newly declared marine sanctuaries in the Pacific, which include the CNMI’s Marianas Trench Marine National Monument, will be used to help the U.S. armed forces fulfill its need to get adequate training, readiness and global mobility in and around the region to keep peace and security around the world.

Under the authority granted by the U.S. 1906 Antiquities Act, Bush signed three declarations on Jan. 6 placing the Marianas Trench, the waters around the three uninhabited northernmost islands of the CNMI and 21 undersea volcanoes, the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument in the central Pacific Ocean and the Rose Atoll Marine National Monument in American Samoa under the jurisdiction of the U.S. government.

“On this occasion of the establishment of the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument, the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument, and the Rose Atoll Marine National Monument, I confirm that the policy of the United States shall be to continue measures established in the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument to protect the training, readiness, and global mobility of U.S. armed forces, and ensure protection of navigation rights and high seas freedoms under the law of the sea, which are essential to the peace and prosperity of civilized nations,” the president said.

“The security of America, the prosperity of its citizens, and the protection of the ocean environment are complementary and reinforcing priorities. As the United States takes measures to conserve and protect the living and non-living resources of the ocean, it shall ensure preservation of the navigation rights and high seas freedoms enjoyed by all nations under the law of the sea,” he added.

The three new Pacific monuments measure about 195,000 square miles and are the biggest marine sanctuaries in the world.

James Connaughton, chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, said the Bush administration welcomes the presence of the military in and around the Marianas monument “because they will be some of our best eyes and ears as to what’s going on with the resource.”

Connaughton said the military buildup on Guam in the coming years will need the protected areas to do scientific research and other projects.

“The military will be flying their missions, and sailing their ships, and running their submarines in and around these areas. But I want to observe the active military activity will be taking place south of the Northern Islands, and so we have set this up in a way where it’s going to be fully compatible with those activities,” he added.

Under the nine-page declaration for the CNMI, the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument will be managed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Department of Commerce, the Department of the Interior, in consultation with the Department of Defense.

Within three months after Jan. 6, an advisory council will be created.

The monument declaration essentially allows “the right of innocent passage in territorial seas, without requirement for prior notification to or permission from a coastal state.

It also grants the following rights to the U.S:

•The right of transit passage for ships, submarines, and aircraft in straits used for international navigation; a right that may not be suspended, denied, hampered, or impaired.

•The right of archipelagic sea lanes passage in designated sea lanes and air routes, and passage routes normally used for international navigation in archipelagic nations.

• The exercise of high seas freedoms in exclusive economic zones, including the conduct of military activities, exercises, and surveys.

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