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Commonwealth Facts

Miles of Coast: 250

Coastal Population (2000): 53,883

Lead Coastal Management Agency: Coastal Resources Management Office

Approval Date: 1980

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Ocean and Coastal Management in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands

Northern Mariana Islands' Coastal Program

The Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands is made up of 14 islands that span 440 miles of the western Pacific Ocean. Since the islands are small, the entire land and water area of the Commonwealth are included within the coastal boundary. The Coastal Resources Management Office is the lead agency for the Commonwealth's Coastal Program.

photo of island

Managaha Island off of Saipan is a popular destination for day trips. The Island contains important cultural sites and is considered a sacred and taboo place by the local Carolinians.

The Mariana Islands face a number of issues, including nonpoint source pollution, tourism impacts, and declining marine resources. The Coastal Program manages coastal development and protects and restores coral reefs, wetlands, mangroves, lagoons, beaches and other critical coastal resources. Program activities include issuance, monitoring, and enforcement of development permits; public education and involvement; coral reef monitoring; special area planning; remediation of problem areas; and federal consistency review.

Northern Mariana Islands' Coral Program

The Commonwealth is also a member of the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force. As part of the Task Force, the Department of Environmental Quality serves as the Commonwealth’s Coral Reef point-of-contact, and coordinates coral reef management with the Coastal Resources Management Office and the Division of Fish and Wildlife. The agencies have led a participatory process to develop local action strategies to address four priority threats to coral reefs: land-based sources of pollution, over-fishing, lack of public awareness, and recreational misuse/overuse.

Program Achievements

CNMI Moves Forward with Storm Water Retrofit Projects to Protect Coral Reefs


Coastal Resources Management Office — The website provides information from the Program's activities including permitting, the coral reef initiative, and marine monitoring and research.

Coastal and Estuarine Land Conservation Plan for the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (2008) — The Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands has developed a Coastal and Estuarine Land Conservation Plan that provides an assessment of priority conservation needs and guidance for nominating and selecting land conservation projects to OCRM's Coastal and Estuarine Land Conservation Program competition.

CNMI Coral Reef Initiative Program — This interagency group is tasked with protecting and monitoring coral reefs in the CNMI, as well as implementation of Coral Reef Conservation Local Action Strategy efforts.

Marine Protected Areas — Search for marine protected areas in the Commonwealth of the Northern Marinas Islands.

Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands Coastal Nonpoint Program Conditional and Final Approval Documents — The Coastal Nonpoint Pollution Control Program encourages better coordination between state coastal zone managers and water quality experts to reduce polluted runoff in the coastal zone. The Commonwealth received full approval in 2003.

Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands Coastal Program Evaluation (2006) — The Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management conducts periodic performance reviews of federally approved state coastal management programs.

Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands Coastal Zone Enhancement Program Assessment and Strategy (2011-2016) — Every five years, the Coastal Zone Management Act encourages states and territories to conduct self-evaluations of their coastal management programs to assess significant changes in the state’s coastal resources and management practices, identify critical needs, and prioritize areas for enhancement under the Coastal Zone Enhancement Program.

Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands Coral Reef Local Action Strategies — The U.S. Coral Reef Task Force identified the need for more focused action at the local level to reduce key threats to coral reefs and called for each of the states and territories with significant coral reef resources to develop local action strategies.

Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands Coastal Resources Management Office

Coastal Resources Management Office
Office of the Governor
2nd floor Morgen Building
San Jose, Saipan, Mariana Islands 96950
(670) 664-8300