New Maui Gallery Highlights Papahānaumokuākea
A new gallery highlighting the biodiversity, cultural resource, and conservation efforts at the Papahānaumokuākea National Marine Monument opened this week on Maui. The gallery features a photography collection that celebrates the successes achieved and comes as marine monuments come under review by the Trump administration.
The exhibit titled, Papahānaumokuākea Gallery, includes 30 individual mounted photos from photographers David Littschwager and Susan Middleton who spent time in the Northwestern Hawaiian islands and have published a book of photography titled Archipelago. Additional images of Presidents Bush and Obama are on view from the same area from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association as well as an image from artist Solomon Enos.
Over the past 110 years presidents from both parties have taken action to protect the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. To highlight this bipartisan history of conservation, the exhibit also features a photograph of former President George W. Bush, who is surrounded by a Hawai‘i delegation, signing the first proclamation as well as a National Geographic photo of President Barack Obama swimming at Midway Atoll.
“The Pacific marine monuments were established after extensive public consultation and are supported by sound scientific and historic rationale,” said Seth Horstmeyer, a director with the Pew Bertarelli Ocean Legacy Project. “The current review must take into account the thousands of local stakeholders who overwhelming supported the bipartisan creation and expansion of these critical marine reserves.”
The exhibit comes as President Trump signed Executive Orders on April 26 and 28, instructing the Departments of Interior and Commerce to review national monuments created under the Antiquities Act, a conservation tool that has been used to protect public lands and waters. In the Pacific, included in the review process are Rose Atoll, Marianas Trench, Pacific Remote Islands and the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monuments.
The current review process includes a comment period soliciting public input between May 11 and July 10, 2017. The Papahānaumokuākea exhibit includes a public comment station for visitors to submit statements for maintaining protections of the Pacific marine monuments.
On June 15, 2006, President Bush signed a proclamation establishing the Monument, and in 2007 it was officially named the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument encompassing 140,000 square miles. It was larger than 46 of the 50 states and the first ever Marine National Monument.
In the past couple of years, cultural leaders, conservation, and science communities united in an effort to significantly enlarge the monument to adequately protect the entire ecosystem, and sustain a necessary and healthy marine environment for the future. On Aug. 26, 2016, President Obama signed a proclamation expanding the boundaries to its current protections. At 582,578 square miles (1,508,870 km2) it is nearly the size of the Gulf of Mexico.
Papahānaumokuākea supporters say that even with these successes, only about 3% of the world’s ocean has been set aside with strong protections today. Supporters say recent science supports conserving at least 30% to maintain biodiversity, support fisheries productivity, and safeguard the myriad economic, cultural, and life-supporting benefits of the seas.
Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa who attended the opening event said, “The Papahānaumokuākea Gallery captures the pristine essence of life and nature in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands and why it is so critical for us to keep current protections in place.”
Chris Masterson, exhibit designer said, “The gallery design invites visitors to learn of the importance of Papahānaumokuākea in Hawaii’s heritage and the history of its naming, to walk around a topographic map and appreciate the scope of the world’s largest Marine National Monument, and view the stunning photography of newly discovered species.”
The gallery is located within the Maui Ocean Center in Māʻalaea.