The Civil Beat Editorial Board Interview: The Pacific Remote Islands Coalition

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Editor’s note: The Civil Beat Editorial Board spoke on Wednesday with William Aila, Sol Kaho‘ohalahala and Nai‘a Lewis, members of the Pacific Remote Islands Coalition, which works to protect the cultural, natural and historical legacy of the islands, atolls and reefs of the PRI.

Aila is a former chair of the state Department of Land and Natural Resources and the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands. Kaho‘ohalahala is a former state legislator now serving as chair of the Maui Nui Makai Network and chair of the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. Lewis is director of Big Ocean and runs her own Indigenous women-led multimedia collective Salted Logic.

President Joe Biden has proposed creating a new Pacific marine sanctuary that would be one of the largest protected areas on the planet — the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Sanctuary. The public scoping for that proposal began this week in Honolulu and Hilo. To comment online click here and type in the docket number NOAA-NOS-2023-0052.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity, for recent stories and with an eye on additional stories. The coalition began by describing the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument.

Aila: It is a group of five islands or island groups. So you have Wake, Johnston and Jarvis that are protected out to 200 miles under the monument. And you have Howland, Baker, Kingman Reef and Palmyra, which are protected to 50 miles out. The ask is for them to become protected out to 200 miles and then to have a national marine sanctuary overlay over the monuments.

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