Hollywood director backs Marianas Trench sanctuary

3:46 pm on 9 January 2017

The film director James Cameron is backing a move to make the Mariana Trench a national marine sanctuary.

Writer/director James Cameron of 'Avatar 2' speaks onstage during CinemaCon 2016

Film director James Cameron is backing the designation of the Mariana Trench as a national marine sanctuary. Photo: AFP

He has written to the outgoing US President Barack Obama, calling on him to finish the work of protecting the Mariana Trench Marine National Monument by designating it a national marine sanctuary.

Cameron was the first to dive solo in the Mariana Trench, the deepest known point of the world's oceans.

The letter states the Obama Administration has built a legacy of ocean protection unrivalled by any president in American history and also points to the role of the ocean as the planet's largest ecosystem and crucial role as a climate regulator.

But a group in the Northern Marianas (CNMI) is opposed to designating the Marianas Trench as a marine sanctuary.

In a letter to President Barack Obama, a Marianas Conservation member John Gourley said turning the Marianas Trench into a sanctuary on top of being a marine national monument will give the CNMI less access to natural resources and minerals in the area.

Under that set-up the CNMI would need to obtain permission from the federal government twice - one for the trench being a national monument and another for the trench being a marine sanctuary- before its people can fish or mine in waters around the Marianas Trench.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs