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What is a marine national monument?

Similar to national marine sanctuaries, marine national monuments are designated to protect areas of the marine environment.

coral and ulua

Coral and Ulua found in the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. Coral reefs found in Papahānaumokuākea are home to over 7,000 marine species, one quarter of which are found only in the Hawaiian Archipelago.

Marine monuments and national marine sanctuaries are both types of marine protected areas. The main difference between national marine sanctuaries and marine national monuments is the designation process and the laws under which they are established. Sanctuaries are designated by NOAA or Congress and are managed by NOAA using the National Marine Sanctuaries Act (NMSA). The NMSA requires extensive public process, local community engagement, stakeholder involvement, and citizen participation, both prior to and following designation.

Monuments are designated by Presidential Proclamation, via the Antiquities Act of 1906. The Act is very simple, has changed little in more than a century, provides broad power to set aside public areas for protection, and requires no public process.

The NOS Office of National Marine Sanctuaries manages 13 national marine sanctuaries and one national marine monument.  At more than 140,000 square miles (362,598 square kilometers), Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument is the second largest protected area in the United States, stretching the length of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. The Monument, co-managed with the State of Hawai’i and the Department of the Interior, was designated on June 15, 2006 by President George W. Bush under Presidential Proclamation 8031.