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