WASHINGTON (KHON2) — President Donald Trump signed a bipartisan government funding bill on Sunday, Dec. 27, which included a provision from Sen. Brian Schatz that will increase protections for the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument by starting the process to designate it as a national marine sanctuary.

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The Shatz provision directs the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to begin the process to designate Papahanaumokuakea as a national marine sanctuary. The senator said the designation will have many positive ramifications.

“A new sanctuary designation means more resources and stronger protections for Papahanaumokuakea. This will give us more opportunities to better understand and conserve one of our most important natural recourses.”

Sen. Brian Schatz

NOAA can begin completing the requirements to finalize an official designation by holding public meetings and starting the formal legal process when the provision is initiated.

Sen. Schatz also secured $1.2 million for research and management activities at the marine monument in this year’s appropriations bill, a $200,000 increase from last year. The funding aims to bring new resources for keeping the Hawaiian archipelago healthy and productive.

Sanctuary status for the Monument would increase the difficulty to weaken protections put in place by previous administrations. Protections for Papahanaumokuakea were expanded by President Obama in 2016.

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