Marianas Variety

Last updateFri, 27 Apr 2018 12am







    Wednesday, April 25, 2018-11:55:22P.M.






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50-mile exclusion zone

THIS is the fourth in a series of letters about the Trump administration efforts to overturn marine monuments in the Pacific, particularly the Mariana Trench Marine National Monument. In this letter I will continue to discuss commercial fishing.

The pace of developing the monument and approving the management plan has been frustrating for everyone on this island, particularly those of us who advocated for the monument. When people point fingers at us for the failures of the federal government to do their job, we feel more anger and resentment than anyone else.

The monument has potential though. There are many examples of places where monuments are working, where communities are being engaged, cultures are being nourished, and ecosystems are being protected. I would like to see that happen here, and have thought for more than 10 years that the best way to do this is with the NOAA Office of Marine National Sanctuaries. We laid the reasons why in our vision statement, which we published in this newspaper in October 2008 and posted online on numerous blogs.

If the monument is overturned, the potential for making the ocean great again goes away and we are left with nothing. At the same time, even if Trump were to overturn the monument, commercial fishing would not be allowed in the Islands Unit because NOAA rules do not allow commercial longline vessels within 50 miles from shore. Purse seines are banned out to 200 miles.

Overturning the monument is a lose-lose. We would lose any potential benefits from the monument, and hopefully a sanctuary. And fishermen wouldn’t suddenly have a new place to fish, because fishing would still be banned!

What we’d rather see is for Governor Torres to use his influence with President Trump to demand that the promises made by the Bush administration are delivered immediately. A great way to start would be to begin the sanctuary process, so that our community could begin engaging on how best to manage the federal marine resources surrounding our islands.

I Agag, Saipan