HONOLULU (25 Aug. 2016)
The Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council today expressed its disappointment with the announcement that President Obama will expand the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument to the full extent of the U.S. exclusive economic zone (out to 200 miles from shore) to encompass a total 582,578 square miles around the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands.
"We do not believe the expansion is based on
the best available scientific information," said Kitty Simonds, Council executive director. "It serves a political legacy rather than any conservation benefits to pelagic species such as tunas, billfish, sea turtles, seabirds and marine mammals. The campaign to expand the monument was organized by a multibillion dollar, agenda-driven environmental organization that has preyed upon the public's lack of understanding of ocean resource management issues and utilized influential native Hawaiians and several high-level politicians to lead this initiative. Our government has chosen to follow the Pew's Ocean Legacy."
Last week, the Council provided Obama with two options for monument expansion that would have achieved the protection and legacy objectives that the proponents were seeking while also minimizing impacts to the Hawaii longline fishery and local seafood production. "The President obviously chose not to balance the interests of Hawaii's community, which has been divided on this issue," Simonds said.
"Closing 60 percent of Hawaii's waters to commercial fishing, when science is telling us that it will not lead to more productive local fisheries, makes no sense," said Council Chair Edwin Ebiusi Jr. "Today is a sad day in the history of Hawaii's fisheries and a negative blow to our local food security." Fisheries are the state's top food producer, according the Hawaii Department of Agriculture.
The expansion of the Papahānaumokuākea monument is the fourth time a U.S. President has used the Antiquities Act of 1906 to create or expand a marine national monument. All four of the U.S. marine national monuments are in the U.S. Pacific Islands. "Our islands are populated by minority ethnicities," Simonds said. "We have little representation in Congress and are located 5,000 to 8,000 miles from nation's capital. Placing all of the marine monuments in our waters is a conservation burden to U.S. Pacific Islanders and a is a socioenvironmental injustice, especially as we rely on the oceans for fresh fish that is our culture and our tradition."
The Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council was established by Congress in 1976 under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act. It has authority over fisheries in the Pacific Ocean seaward of the States, Commonwealth, Territories and possessions of the United States. Council Members:
Secretary of Commerce appointees from nominees selected by American Samoa, CNMI, Guam and Hawai`i governors: Michael Duenas, Guam Fishermen's Cooperative Association (Guam) (vice chair); Edwin Ebisui Jr. (Hawaii) (chair); Michael Goto, United Fishing Agency Ltd. (Hawaii); John Gourley, Micronesian Environmental Services (CNMI) (vice chair); Christinna Lutu-Sanchez, commercial fisherman (American Samoa); McGrew Rice, commercial and charter fisherman (Hawaii) (vice chair); Dean Sensui, film producer (Hawaii); and Archie Solai, StarKist cannery (American Samoa) (vice chair). Designated state officials: Suzanne Case, Hawai`i Department of Land and Natural Resources; Dr. Ruth Matagi-Tofiga, American Samoa Department of Marine and Wildlife Resources; Richard Seman, CNMI Department of Lands and Natural Resources; and Matt Sablan, Guam Department of Agriculture. Designated federal officials: Matthew Brown, USFWS Pacific Islands Refuges and Monuments Office; Michael Brakke, US Department of State; RADM Vincent B. Atkins, US Coast Guard 14th District; and Michael Tosatto, NMFS Pacific Islands Regional Office.