Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument Community Group

Giant Clams

There are over 100 species of giant clams, some weighing 500 pounds or more and living over 100 years. They achieve such enormous size mainly by living off the sugars and proteins produced by the billions of algae that live on their tissues, but they also filter food from the surrounding water. Unlike many other clams, once a young giant clam settles onto a spot, it attaches itself and lives its entire life there. Oh, by the way, they don't clamp down on the legs of divers—you've been watching too many cartoons and bad movies!

About the Group

NOAA Fisheries Pacific Marine National Monuments Program and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have partnered with the Udall Foundation to recruit and select Community Group members to seek input on the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument (PRIMNM). The PRIMNM Community Group will provide input to the agencies on the management, proper care, and effective stewardship of the Monument. This Community Group will also provide a forum to discuss ideas and opportunities regarding PRIMNM management, for consideration in the draft Monument Management Plan that’s under development.

The first in-person meeting was held September 4-5, 2019 in Honolulu. (Meeting Notes)


Group Members

Angelo Villagomez
Conservation Representative
Mr. Villagomez fills the Community Group Conservation seat and has a B.S. in Biology and a B.A. in Environmental Policy. Angelo is a native Micronesian who works in Washington, D.C., for The Pew Charitable Trusts working across several programs to integrate scientific research and culture into messaging and communications to showcase community support for large marine protected areas. Angelo has many years of experience working with over 25 island communities in the Caribbean and Pacific to create coalitions and manage campaigns to advocate for improved shark management and marine protected areas. Angelo started his career in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands to help found the “Beautify CNMI” coalition and “Friends of the Mariana Trench,” expanding to advocate for conservation and cultural connections across the globe and specifically the PRIMNM in his role with Pew.

Donald Greenbaum
Citizen-at-Large Representative
Mr. Greenbaum fills the Community Group Citizen-at-Large seat and has an MBA in International Finance and Accounting and a B.A. in Economics. Donald has been a proprietor at Aurum Telemedia Company since 1992 and was granted two U.S. patents titled Methods and Apparatus for Understanding Machine Vocabulary by the Patent and Trademark Office. Donald is a recognized participant in the amateur radio community and frequent visitor to rare places to operate Ham Radio. He has been to Wake and Midway Atolls, and Baker Island and recognizes the need to balance recreational uses with protecting the valuable assets found in protected areas such as the PRIMNM and National Wildlife Refuges. As a business executive with 40+ years of experience, he brings the skills required to communicate the stewardship responsibilities to others who also wish to visit the PRIMNM, in person or virtually.

Gina McGuire
Youth Representative
Gina McGuire received her MS in Tropical Conservation Biology and Environmental Science from the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo. Her thesis focused on using narrative research and landscape-scale analysis of heritage, ecological, and logistical components for the Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge, Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument to inform the future of a visitor program. She is currently pursuing her PhD in Geography and Environmental Science at UH Mānoa to bring together ethnography and geospatial analyses on the eastern slopes of Hawaiʻi Island. Growing up on a native plant conservation farm in Olaʻa, Hawaiʻi Island gave her an appreciation for the natural world, deep connection to place, and community-based management. She completed her undergraduate degree at Stanford University and has studied and worked in Queensland, Australia; her desire to give back to Hawaiʻi and Oceania continues to guide her work. She has previously worked on research on humpback whales, dugongs, and Hawaiian monk seals and as a GIS analyst for the Hawaiʻi Coral Reef Initiative's 30 by 30 Program's spatial layer planning. Her interests include bringing Indigenous voices and epistemologies to the forefront of research and management, using geospatial tools to visualize and analyze data, and rural community relationships with terrestrial and coastal ecosystems. She is actively engaged in representing the younger generation and Native Hawaiian cultural frameworks in the PRIMNM Community Group and sharing information and opportunities with students.

Lance Morgan, PhD
Research Representative
Dr. Morgan represents one of the two Research seats on the Community Advisory Group. Lance is the President of Marine Conservation Institute. His Ph.D. is in Ecology, with a M.S. in Marine Science, and a B. A. in Biology. Lance has authored numerous marine protection and conservation biology publications and co-authored a justification document for the designation of the PRIMNM. In addition, he has led workshops to guide the management of the PRIMNM and assisted with establishing the Johnston Atoll field camp in 2010 as a volunteer. Lance has well established relationships with research scientists throughout the U.S. and the world, and he brings extensive knowledge about seamounts as part of the California Seamounts Coalition and other deep-sea research experiences that will assist to inform protection of the 1,000s of seamounts in the PRIMNM.

Matthew Onellion
Alumni Representative
Mr. Onellion fills the Community Group Alumni seat with 15 years’ experience in Public Utilities Water Works Management and 6,000+ scuba dives throughout the central and south Pacific Ocean. Matthew is a Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) SCUBA Instructor, a Project AWARE-Coral Reef Conservation Specialty Instructor and Emergency First Response CPR & First-Aid Instructor. Since 2017, Matthew is the Wake Island SCUBA Club Instructor & Divemaster emphasizing Diver Safety, Dive Training, and Reef Conservation. Matt offers specialty courses for Wake Island scuba divers, snorkelers, and water enthusiasts and through PADI Project AWARE, he teaches the importance of coral reefs, the complex nature of coral ecosystems, and ways to protect the reef.

Rick Gaffney
Recreation Representative
Mr. Gaffney fills the Community Group and Recreation seat. He has a B.S in Political Science from Oregon State University and also studied at the University of Hawaiʻi Asian Studies program, and at the University of Rhode Island Graduate School of Oceanography, where he won a fellowship in Marine Environmental Journalism. Rick has been engaged in MPA development and management in Hawaiʻi since 1972. He served on the MPA Federal Advisory Committee for 2 terms, and on the Northwest Hawaiian Island Coral Reef Ecosystem Reserve Advisory Committee since its inception. Rick has been to Palmyra, Kingman, and Johnston Atoll, which informs his advocacy for the protection of the PRIMNM with first-hand experience. Rick has been boating, fishing, and diving in the Pacific Islands professionally and recreationally for nearly 50 years and assisted in the management of recreational fishing and diving in Midway Atoll. Rick is also an award-winning freelance journalist and member of several fishing and boating organizations where he has the opportunity to represent the Community Group and share developments and accomplishments with the public.

Matt Owens
Fishing Representative
Matt Owens is the Director of Sustainability at Tri Marine, a large global tuna supplier involved in trade, fishing and processing. His work is focused on improving the management and on-the-water practices of tuna fisheries, providing sustainable product solutions for Tri Marine customers, and protecting the wellbeing of fishermen, fish processors and their communities. This includes facilitating Fair Trade and Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification of Tri Marine fishing fleets and supply chains, serving on the International Sustainability Foundation (ISSF) Implementation Team, and being the co-Lead of the Seafood Task Force Tuna Subgroup. Prior to Tri Marine, Matt was the Managing Director of FishWise where he built sustainable seafood programs for major US retailers including Safeway-Albertsons and Target. Earlier in his career he served as a Peace Corps Volunteer and Trainer in Zambia and Ghana focused on rural aquaculture development. Matt graduated cum laude with a Master’s degree in Pacific International Affairs from the University of California and holds a BA in International Relations from Humboldt State University.

Robert Richmond, PhD
Research Representative
Dr. Robert Richmond fills one of the two Research seat representatives on the Community Group. Dr. Richmond is the Director of the University of Hawaii Kewalo Marine Laboratory and has worked in marine research and conservation biology in the Pacific for over 40 years. His Ph.D. is in Biological Sciences, with a M.S. is Marine Environmental Sciences and a B.S. in Biology/Geology and he has over 100 publications and over 3,000 citations in the scientific literature. Robert has led extensive research programs on corals propagation, restoration, impacts assessment, and climate change adaptation needs. Robert is currently the Chair of the Maui Coral Reef Recovery Team and has an extensive research and academic communication network, both nationally and internationally, that will effectively benefit the Community Group.

Sean Russell
Education and Outreach Representative
Mr. Russell fills one of the two Education and Outreach seats. Sean has a B.S. in Biology and manages the EarthEcho Water Challenge Program, overseeing a global initiative that has activated 1.5 million citizen science volunteers in 146 countries. Sean is the founder and director of the Youth Ocean Conservation Summit, a program that equips young people with the knowledge, tools, and funds to launch solutions-oriented ocean conservation projects in their local communities. Since 2014 he has worked with SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment to create and coordinate their Youth Advisory Council, while helping influence the development of youth leadership programs in zoos and aquariums across the nation. He serves on the Board of Directors for the National Marine Educators Association, where he created the organization’s Student Engagement Committee to provide professional development opportunities for high school and college age students interested in marine science education, and is an advisor to The Ocean Project. Sean contributed to creating the PRIMNM Community Group by participating in the dialogue to discuss the “community concept” held in Palmyra, September 2016.

Sheila Sarhangi
Education and Outreach Representative
Sheila Sarhangi is the owner and principal strategist for Cause Consulting, based in Honolulu. With a background in communications, policy and behavior change campaigns, Sheila leads conservation initiatives that activate key audiences in some of the most biodiverse regions in the world. She has a knack for science communication, a passion for community organizing and an unrelenting drive to get her mission-driven clients across the finish line. Working with a broad coalition, Sheila led the successful campaigns to expand the Papahanaumokuakea and Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monuments in 2016 and 2014, respectively. Today, she manages and coordinates the “Protect Papahanaumokuakea & PRI coalition.” Prior to launching her consulting firm, she served as a director for the nonprofit SeaWeb, focusing on strengthening the communications capacity to benefit ocean health throughout the Pacific Rim, including Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Palau, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Indonesia and Hawaii. She is also an award-winning writer, having penned 400-plus cover stories, features, columns and blogs.

Sol Kaho’ohalahala
Cultural Representative
Mr. Kahoʻohalahala fills the Community Group Cultural seat. Sol is a seventh generation native Hawaiian descendent from the island of Lanaiʻi. Sol currently serves as the Papahānaumokuākea Native Hawaiian Elder on the Reserve Advisory Council and is the Chair of the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Council. Sol has been a crewmember on the Hōkūleʻa since 1975 and his Uncle, Joseph Keli’ihananui was one of the men killed during the Japanese attack of Howland Island on December 8, 1941. Sol brings extensive cultural knowledge and dedication to protecting the Hawaiian and Pacific Remote Islands.