Governor Neil Abercrombie and the governors of American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas (CNMI), and Guam have signed a partnership agreement to assist the region in identifying coastal and ocean management priorities that require a coordinated regional response and increased collaboration.
Joining Governor Abercrombie in signing the Governors' Pacific Regional Ocean Partnership (PROP) agreement were Territory of American Samoa Governor Togiola T.A. Tulafono, CNMI Governor Benigno R. Fitial, and Territory of Guam Governor Eddie Baza Calvo.
"This regional partnership will enhance our ability to work cooperatively in addressing stewardship of our oceans and coastal areas for future generations," said Governor Abercrombie. "Although we are separated by thousands of miles, our islands are tied together by one ocean as well as shared heritage and cultural traditions, and great value placed on our natural resources and the environment."
The PROP, a living document, identifies 10 regional objectives:
Promote regional sustainability of resources that supports individual state requirements;
Facilitate the implementation of the priority objectives of the President's Executive Order 13547 of July 19, 2010, which established the National Ocean Policy;
Foster cooperation and collaboration on all aspects of ocean and coastal-related research and development, education, exploration and observation, and oceans management;
Coordinate and communicate regional priorities;
Facilitate the exchange of information, including reports, discussions, initiatives and plans that may be developed or considered;
Facilitate preservation of the historical, cultural and social heritage of each state and the region;
Identify opportunities for collaborative work in the ocean and coastal environment;
Enhance current state, multi-state, and federal governance and institutional mechanisms to manage ocean and coastal resources;
Seek additional resources and funding opportunities to further the PROP's objectives; and
Address related environmental issues.
Hawai'i Office of Planning Director Jesse Souki added: "The PROP creates a structure for developing regional priorities and a framework for collaboratively working with stakeholders such as local communities; county, state and federal agencies; non-governmental organizations; and the private sector.
"The next step for the PROP will be identifying regional priorities and reaching out to regional stakeholders."
The Hawai'i Office of Planning is working with designees from American Samoa, CNMI, and Guam to implement the PROP. The Office of Planning is charged with facilitating the update and implementation of the Statewide Ocean Resources Management Plan and implementing the Coastal Zone Management Act with participating agencies and affected local communities.