The Saipan Tribune reports the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has now placed the Monument on the national inventory for possible sanctuary designation.
Governor Ralph Torres said the federal government has declared the CNMI's marine resources a national treasure and he is now keen on pursuing avenues for federal resources to ensure adequate conservation.
The CNMI government sent a letter to then-President Obama in September, requesting initiation of the multi-year process to consider sanctuary designation for the Monument.
The letter said the designation would advance the goals of both the National Marine Sanctuary Act and the original objectives of the Monument proclamation.
The CNMI said it would also support the conservation values, practices, and aspirations of the people of the Marianas.
Placement on the NOAA inventory means that the agency has determined the nomination successfully met numerous criteria, including ecological, historical, cultural and archaeological significance.