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 Island 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 Island and Johnston Atoll are administered as National Wildlife Refuges (NWR) by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) of the DOI. Johnston Atoll is managed by the Department of Defense (DOD). Wake Island is under the jurisdiction of DOI, and managed by DOD.
Some sources include Rose Atoll (the easternmost of the Samoan Islands) and Midway Atoll (located near the northern end of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands) among PRIA.
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 PRIA remained undisturbed until the early 20th century. During World War II, the U.S. constructed and occupied military bases at Johnston and, Palmyra Atolls, Wake Island, Midway Atoll, and Baker Island. Jarvis and Howland Islands 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 of PRIA has 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 and Palmyra Atolls have serviceable runways; Baker Island, Howland Island, and Johnston Atoll no longer have functional airstrips.
Appearing as solitary forms in the fossil record more than 400 million years ago, corals are extremely ancient animals that evolved into modern reef-building forms over the last 25 million years. Continue Reading →
coral reef conservation program
The NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program (CRCP) is a partnership between the NOAA Line Offices that work on coral reef issues: the National Ocean Service, the National Marine Fisheries Service, the Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research, and the National Environmental Satellite, Data and Information Service. The CRCP brings together expertise from across NOAA for a multidisciplinary approach to managing and understanding coral reef ecosystems.
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