The first bill introduced into the US Congress by the first Northern Mariana Islands representative there, Gregorio Sablan, is making quick progress.
Mr Sablan's measure calls for the submerged lands surrounding each of the Northern Mariana Islands out to five kilometres from the coastline to come under the control of the CNMI.
In 2005, the U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that the CNMI did not own the submerged lands, a ruling which angered many in the Marianas.
This week it was discussed at the first hearing of Congress's new Subcommittee on Insular Affairs, Oceans, and Wildlife.
Mr Sablan told the Subcommittee that the ocean surrounding the Northern Marianas is the islanders' only true natural resource - one that is vital in all aspects of their lives.