Sep 7 2017

Sen Sullivan to NOAA: ‘Meaningful Changes’ Needed for Marine Sanctuaries and Monuments

September 6, 2017 (Saving Seafood) — In a letter last month to NOAA Acting Administrator Benjamin Friedman, Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-AK) called for “meaningful changes” to marine sanctuary and marine national monument designations, particularly in the form of greater stakeholder engagement.

In his letter, Sen. Sullivan, who serves as Chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries, and Coast Guard, called the concept of marine sanctuaries and monuments “well-intentioned” but wrote that they had caused challenges for coastal communities across the country, including Alaska’s “robust commercial fishing industry.”

“Fisheries restrictions imposed outside of the process utilized by Regional Fishery Management Councils on these areas are problematic for the communities who rely on access to commercial fisheries,” Sen. Sullivan wrote.

Sen. Sullivan expressed concern that the National Marine Sanctuary Act, while requiring stakeholder engagement, does not require that this engagement be taken into consideration when designating a sanctuary. “This can lead to communities feeling betrayed by the agency when the established sanctuaries are unrecognizable to the localities who spent years working with NOAA to form a mutually beneficial designation and management structure,” he wrote.

Sen. Sullivan also called into question the process by which the president can unilaterally establish national monuments with no stakeholder consultation under the Antiquities Act. He criticized recent presidents for using the national monument process as a “political tool” to “limit access to economically viable resources.”

“This action is often taken at the request of non-affected parties such as environmental groups,” he wrote. “This is problematic when monuments are established without the use of best-available science, absent stakeholder engagement, and inattentive to the economic consequences for local communities.”

On August 24, Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke completed a review of national monuments ordered by President Donald Trump. While Secretary Zinke’s full recommendations have not been made public, the AP reported that they include changes to a “handful” of monuments.

 

Download/Read the full letter here [PDF]

 

 

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