SAIPAN, (MARIANAS VARIETY) — Governor Ralph Torres said the CNMI has been granted a 45-day extension for public comment on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration- Office of National Marine Sanctuaries’ five-year review of the nomination for the Marianas Trench National Marine Sanctuary.

The office is soliciting written comments to facilitate its five-year review of the nomination for the Marianas Trench National Marine Sanctuary.

NOAA issued a notice in the Federal Register on Friday, 21 January, 2022.

NOAA said it is not proposing to designate the Marianas Trench National Marine Sanctuary with this action. 

“Instead, NOAA is seeking public comment on [Office of National Marine Sanctuaries’] five-year review of the nomination for Marianas Trench NMS.”

Following this information gathering and internal analysis, NOAA said it will make a final determination on whether or not the Marianas Trench NMS nomination will remain in the inventory for another five-year period.

Critics of the sanctuary proposal said it would increase the monument area to 57.5% of the CNMI’s exclusive economic zone, or EEZ.

The EEZ is an area of the sea in which a government has special rights regarding the exploration and use of marine resources, including energy production from water and wind.

If the CNMI agrees to increase the sanctuary to 57.5% of its EEZ, that entire portion would be closed to free passage by Marianas residents, unless given special permission, critics of the sanctuary proposal said.

Governor Torres is urging the local community to submit comments opposing this proposal.

“This is a great opportunity for us to make our voices [heard] in the next few days,” he added…. PACNEWS

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