Sanctuary Status Proposed for Hawaiian Reef Reserve

The current Northwestern Hawaiian Islands (NWHI) Coral Reef Ecosystem Reserve is being proposed as the nation's 14th National Marine Sanctuary. The waters surrounding this 1,200-mile remote chain of islets, reefs and atolls are home to 70 percent of the nation's coral reefs, and some of the healthiest and most extensive coral reefs on Earth. The NWHI Reserve would allow recreational fishing at the same level as it has been during the last five years. The sanctuary-designation process is underway to determine the best way to manage the area for conservation, protection and enhancement, and will provide opportunities for public input and involvement. The process is expected to take from 24 to 36 months. The three steps of the process include scoping, issue review and prioritization, and draft and final management plans.