ROGUES OF THE PACIFIC
By PAUL KOBERSTEIN
The Northwestern Hawaiian stands, America's largest coral reef ecosystem, have nurtured an exotic web of life for millions of years. Because of their isolated location - they are further from continents than any other islands on earth - life evolved on its own terms. In the Hawaiian Archipelago (see map at right), of which the northwestern islands are a part, about 25 percent of all species occur nowhere else in the world.
While the Main Hawaiian Islands have been dramatically altered by humans, the northwestern islands remain as undisturbed as any place on earth. It's simple to see why. Human access to the 1,200-mile long chain (about the distance from Seattle to San Diego) has never been easy. The public prefers the northwestern islands to remain undisturbed. At numerous hearings on plans to determine the islands' future, people overwhelmingly and repeatedly gave support for fully protecting and preserving the islands as they are.