WHEREAS, the CNMI is home to abundant marine biodiversity and ecosystems that provide valuable services supporting sustainable livelihoods, coastline protection, tourism opportunities, and cultural and recreational uses. However, these resources are constantly threated due to increasing pressures from land-based activities such as erosion, vessel groundings, and increased runoff sedimentation and pollution from community, industry, and infrastructure; and,
WHEREAS, the ocean is the defining feature of our planet, covering approximately 70 percent of Earth’s surface and divided into 5 named ocean basins – the Arctic, Atlantic, Indian, Southern, and ours – the Pacific, all of which are part of a larger complex waterway system, supporting maritime commerce and transportation. The CNMI’s ocean economy employs up to 8,300 people annually, which is roughly forty to fifty percent of our local employment, contributing about $922 million towards the CNMI’s annual gross domestic product; and,
WHEREAS, the indigenous people of the CNMI have a deep and cultural connection with the ocean as it is a source of traditional knowledge and practices passed down through the generations; and,
WHEREAS, the adverse effects of climate change continue to impact smaller ocean nations more drastically than larger countries. The CNMI has experienced more frequent extreme weather events as a result of climate change, such as Super Typhoon Soudelor, Typhoon Mangkhut, and Super Typhoon Yutu. Moreover, changing ocean conditions are affecting the health of our precious coral reefs as we’ve suffered from widespread loss of coral from global bleaching events in the past 8 years; and,
WHEREAS, the total economic value of coral reefs and seagrass in the CNMI is $114.8 million annually, based on ecosystem services of commercial fishing, non-commercial fishing by residents, tourism and recreation, amenity and property value, research, biodiversity, and coastal protection; and,
WHEREAS, the CNMI Bureau of Environmental and Coastal Quality’s Division of Coastal Resources Management strives to protect and enhance the CNMI’s coastal resources for residents and visitors through effective and adaptive resource management, interagency collaboration, and stakeholder engagement, in a manner that builds and sustains community resilience and well-being. Through strong local, regional, and national partnerships, we are able to harness our collective knowledge and experience to better promote resource stewardship; and,
WHEREAS, the month of June is known across the globe as World Oceans Month, with June 8th recognized as World Oceans Day. Locally, during CNMI Ocean Month, we reaffirm our commitment to responsible stewardship of our ocean resources to ensure that the natural beauty, traditional practices, historical significance, and local knowledge of our ocean is preserved and maintained for future generations.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, RALPH DLG. TORRES, Governor of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and Laws of the Commonwealth, do hereby proclaim June 2022 as
CNMI OCEAN MONTH
and June 8, 2022 as
CNMI OCEAN DAY
This month, I call upon all citizens of the Commonwealth to reflect on the value and importance of our ocean not only to our livelihoods and economy, but also as a source of recreation and enjoyment.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand on this 1st day of June 2022.
RALPH DLG. TORRES