Completing conveyance of the waters and submerged lands around the Northern Mariana Islands remains an important goal, so I used the opportunity of a hearing on Marine National Monuments this week to get a status report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Title for most of our islands has already been transferred from the federal government to the Commonwealth pursuant to U.S. Public Law 113-34. Conveyance of submerged lands around Uracas, Maug, and Asuncion was temporarily withheld by the President in 2014 pending an agreement on coordination of management for the waters around those three islands and the surrounding Marianas Trench Marine National Monument.
Dr. Holly Bamford of NOAA responded to my inquiry at the hearing that a draft agreement was now in the hands of the Commonwealth, though Typhoon Soudelor may have delayed the CNMI review. Commonwealth and federal officials first began meeting in June 2014 to work on the management agreement.