Environmental Issues of the Mariana Islands Discussed at the University of Hawaii


Guam – The Kewalo Marine Laboratory at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa (UH) this week hosted a discussion about environmental issues of the Mariana Islands.

Austin Shelton, coordinator of the Humåtak Project, shared his experiences with coastal community ecosystem revival efforts that began in Humåtak, Guam after fishermen realized wildland fires and poor land-use practices were to blame for a decrease in the size and quality of their catch.

Dr. Michael Lujan Bevacqua of the Chamorro Studies program at the University of Guam spoke about environmental issues surrounding Pågat, Guam and community efforts to protect it from being taken over by military build up plans in the Marianas.

From the UH Kewalo Marine Laboratory, Dr. Michael Hadfield shared information about the rich biodiversity of Pågan Island in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) and what could be lost if the island becomes a U.S. Military firing range.

The event began with the Chamorro creation chant, I Tinituhon, and a Hawaiian ‘oli (chant) led by Dietrex Ulukoa Duhaylonsod to welcome attendees and create a safe place for discussion.  Marianas Club at UH officers Jesi Lujan Bennett and Kenneth Gofigan Kuper moderated the event. Chamorro poet Melvin Won Pat-Borja concluded the discussion with a poem as a final thought of inspiration. 

Sponsors of the event included Humåtak Project, Marianas Club at UH, ‘Ilima SACNAS Chapter at UH, University of Guam Chamorro Studies Program, Kewalo Marine Laboratory (Pacific Biosciences Research Center, UH), UH Center for Pacific Island Studies, and UH Mānoa Creative Writing Program  

For more information on the speakers and their work: