HONOLULU – The Office of Hawaiian Affairs Board of Trustees has voted to conditionally support the proposed boundary expansion of Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument provided that:
1. OHA is elevated to a co-trustee position,
2. The cultural significance of the expansion area to Native Hawaiians is recognized, and
3. There is no boundary expansion southeast toward the islands of Niʻihau and Kauaʻi.
Therefore, OHA supports the expansion as outlined by U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz.
In the ten years since the creation of the monument, no Native Hawaiian who has applied for a permit has ever been denied access. The waters that would be included in the expansion are already under the jurisdiction of the federal government, which has been the sole manager of the area since 1976. Expanding the monument will bring the area under a co-management structure where OHA, if elevated to a co-trustee position, will be able to effectively advocate for Native Hawaiian rights and access.
“By becoming a co-trustee, we will have a greater voice and more influence on policy, protections and programmatic activities,” said Kamanaʻopono Crabbe, Ka Pouhana (CEO) of OHA. “We will be able to create prospects for cultural research that has scientific implications and for Native Hawaiian students to maintain the spiritual, intellectual and genealogical bond with islands traversed by their forefathers.”
“Papahānaumokuākea will be the largest marine sanctuary in the world and make us a global leader to show conservation and progress can work hand-in-hand to create a more sustainable future for everyone,” Crabbe said.
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