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Anti-Micronesian bias and colonialism are harming efforts to protect and manage waters surrounding U.S. overseas territories in the Pacific Islands. The Biden administration’s proposal to designate a national marine sanctuary in the Pacific Remote Islands Area (PRIA) would potentially create the largest noncontiguous protected area on the planet. However, the proposal is problematic because it has failed to meaningfully include the Indigenous people who live closest to the region and who have the strongest historical and cultural ties to the islands—Micronesians and Samoans. The article reviews the history and context of the PRIA, who bears the costs and receives the benefits of conservation there, and analyzes the perspectives and concerns of the political and community leaders in the U.S. Pacific territories, who have expressed near-universal opposition to the plan. The article concludes with some recommendations for improving the equity and justice of the proposal, such as engaging in meaningful dialog, respecting the rights and interests of the Indigenous people, and ensuring their input and consultation in the decision-making process and management of the PRIA.


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