U.S. Pacific Remote Island Areas (PRIAS)

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The U.S. Pacific Remote Island Area (PRIA) includes seven islands, atolls and reefs in the Central Pacific that are under the jurisdiction of the United States. Baker, Howland and Jarvis islands, Johnston Atoll, Palmyra Atoll (owned by the Nature Conservancy), and Kingman Reef lie between Hawai‘i and American Samoa . Wake Island is located between the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands and Guam. Wake is an unincorporated territory of the U.S. that is administered by the Department of the Interior (DOI) and the U.S. Air Force. All except Wake and Johnston are administered asNational Wildlife Refuges (NWR) by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) of the Department of the Interior (DOI). Johnston Atoll is managed by the Department of Defense (DOD). Wake Island (or Wake Atoll) is under the jurisdiction of DOI, and managed by DOD.

Some include Rose Atoll (the easternmost of the Samoan Islands) and Midway Atoll (located near the northern end of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands) among the PRIAs.

The U.S. claimed most of these uninhabited islands under the Guano Act of 1856. In the absence of human activities, the coral reef ecosystems of the PRIAs remained undisturbed until the early 20th century. During World War II, the U.S. constructed and occupied military bases at Johnston, Palmyra, Wake, Midway, and Baker. Jarvis and Howland were also briefly occupied or utilized during the war. With the closure of the military base at Johnston Atoll in 2004, only Wake Island remains an active U.S. military base.

Even today, all the PRIAs have escaped coral reef ecosystem degradation caused by coastal development, associated pollutants, and major shipping lanes. Public entry to the islands is by special-use permit from the USFWS only and generally restricted to scientists and educators. Only Midway Atoll and Palmyra Atoll have serviceable runways; Baker Island, Howland Island, and Johnston no longer have functional airstrips.

Pacific Remote Island Areas location map

Pacific Remote Island Areas location map

More Photos


Pacific Reef Assessment and Monitoring Program. Fish monitoring brief: Pacific Remote Island Areas 2012

Status of Coral Reefs of the Pacific and Outlook: 2011

Executive orders, Secretarial Orders, and Congressional Acts

Report on the Status of Marine Protected Areas in Coral Reef Ecosystems of the United States. Volume 1: Marine Protected Areas Managed by U.S. States,Territories, and Commonwealths. NOAA Technical Memorandum CRCP 2 February 2007

State of The Reefs Report (SOTR)

The State of Coral Reef Ecosystems of the United States and Pacific Freely Associated States: 2008.

The State of Coral Reef Ecosystems of the United States and Pacific Freely Associated States: 2005.

The State of Coral Reef Ecosystems of the United States and Pacific Freely Associated States: 2002.

Metadata, Data and Publications Search in CoRIS

Search the CoRIS Geoportal for U.S. Pacific Remote Island Areas (PRIAS) metadata, data and publications.

You may also enter the name of any atoll, island or reef in the CoRIS Geoportal search box and press the "Search" button.

ReefBase Coral Bleaching Reports

Select " U.S. Pacific Islands" in the Region window and select the name of the atoll, island, or reef in the Country window

Near-Real Time Monitoring Data

Coral Reef Watch Satellite Monitoring

Coral Reef Watch - Pacific Virtual Stations

The Global Temperature-Salinity Profile Program

NOAA CO-OPS - Tide Data

National Data Buoy Center

Other Data

Pacific Islands Benthic Habitat Mapping Center - Pacific Remote Island Areas data

Benthic Habitat Mapping of Palmyra Atoll

Education and Outreach

Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument Fact Sheet

Pacific Islands Fish And Wildlife Office

Department of the Interior Office of Insular affairs

Marine Protected Areas/Marine Managed Areas

Marine Protected Areas of the United States Home Page

The Marine Protected Areas Inventory

Federal MPA Legislation

Marine Federal Areas Fact Sheet

Executive order 13158: Marine Protected Areas

Baker Island National Wildlife Refuge

Howland island National Wildlife Refuge

Jarvis Island National Wildlife Refuge

Johnston Island National Wildlife Refuge

Kingman Reef National Wildlife Refuge

Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument

Palmyra Atoll National Wildlife Refuge

Wake Atoll National Wildlife Refuge