Aug 26 2016

Our View: Stakeholders deserve open process in monument designation

Posted Aug. 26, 2016 at 2:01 AM

Editor’s Note: The letters by the mayors of New Bedford and Monterey, California, referred to in this editorial are printed elsewhere on this page. New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell wrote to the White House Council on Environmental Quality and Monterey Mayor Clyde Roberson wrote to President Obama.

The National Park Service was established 100 years ago when President Woodrow Wilson signed the National Park Service Organic Act.

“The service thus established,” the act reads, “shall promote and regulate the use of the Federal areas known as national parks, monuments, and reservations hereinafter specified by such means and measures as conform to the fundamental purpose of the said parks and reservations, which purpose is to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wild life therein and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.”

This brilliant action — called America’s Best Idea by the Park Service — has enriched our nation, even the world, in ways perhaps never imagined by President Wilson or Congress, for the population is 3½ times today what it was in 1916, and the environmental impact of that growth could scarcely have been predicted.

The 84 million acres under the NPS is a treasure that belongs to all of us, and we applaud efforts to expand the protection of our natural resources, but we also recognize some such efforts go too far, including in the push to establish a national monument off the New England coast.

The Canyons and Seamounts are indeed precious resources, but the scope and the current process being advanced by environmental organizations lack checks and balances that would deliver a better policy.

New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell last week sent a letter to the acting director of the Council for Environmental Quality, a White House agency that advises the president on such issues, noting the push for the seamounts monument has kept stakeholders from participating in the process.

Indeed, we have previously reported on efforts by environmentalists to keep their advocacy for the monument designation a secret in order to gain an advantage over industry and other stakeholders.

Mayor Mitchell’s argument in last Friday’s letter to CEQ is that the public processes ensconced in the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act provide a robust framework with both the scientific rigor and stakeholder access needed to create good public policy. He also noted that a virtuous alternative to the proposed designation and the potentially devastating impact this opaque process would have on commercial fisheries has been advanced by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission. Both economic and conservation goals are achieved by the plan proposed by ASMFC, a congressionally authorized coalition comprising “the director of the state’s marine fisheries management agency, a state legislator, and an individual appointed by the state’s governor to represent stakeholder interests” in each of the 15 coastal states from Maine to Florida. The species sought and the methods used show sensitivity to the preservation of the resources, and the ASMFC proposal is “acceptable to the industry,” the mayor wrote.

Also last Friday, the mayor of Monterey, California, Clyde Roberson, sent a letter to President Obama, because he is fighting off a monument designation off of his coast that similarly threatens the commercial fishing industry there.

He argues that laws such as Magnuson-Stevens, the Marine Mammal Protection Act, Endangered Species Act and the National Environmental Policy Act are more than adequate to ensure protection of the natural resources with full transparency and access to stakeholders. He says the closed process being urged by environmentalist under the Antiquities Act is inadequate to the task.

The president did not go along with the environmentalists last fall, and it is our fervent hope that if he isn’t advised by CEQ to pursue the more open process, the duty to represent and hear all stakeholders will prevail.

Read the full editorial at the New Bedford Standard-Times

Read Mayor Jon Mitchell’s full letter here

Read Mayor Clyde Roberson’s full letter here


Originally posted by Saving Seafood

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