Debris, climate change threaten new Hawaiian marine monument

By ALLISON WINTER

A remote location and special federal protection can’t shield a new Hawaiian national monument from debris, invasive species and climate change, according to a new report.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s peer-reviewed report is aimed at providing a baseline for monitoring the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument and identifying management priorities.

The 1,100-mile chain of islands in the Papahanaumokuakea monument is home to almost 70 percent of U.S. tropical near-shore corals, endangered monk seals and sea turtles. A quarter of the 7,000 or so species that live there are unique to the islands.

The report found monk seals in significant decline, with their reproductive success falling by about 60 percent over the past 50 years. NOAA said a 2006 recovery plan for the seal could reverse that decline.

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