Sep 8 2016

Pacific Council outlines offshore monument concerns in letter to White House

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WASHINGTON (Saving Seafood) — September 7, 2016 — Last Thursday, the Pacific Fishery Management Council (Pacific Council) sent a letter to President Barack Obama expressing concern over the impact of proposed offshore marine monument designations on sustainable West Coast fisheries.

In the letter, Pacific Council executive director Charles A. Tracy emphasized the transparent and public fisheries management process already in place under the Pacific Council, one of the eight regional management councils established by the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA).

Through the Pacific Council’s essential fish habitat (EFH) process, nine of the eleven areas proposed for monument designation are already closed to bottom trawl fishing, Mr. Tracy wrote. In total, over 130,000 square miles of seafloor off the U.S. West Coast are closed to groundfish bottom trawling due to EFH provisions. Additionally, the two other areas proposed for monument designation are within the Cowcod Conservation Area West, and are therefore closed to all groundfish fishing in areas deeper than 20 fathoms.

“The fishing industry has sacrificed much to achieve [fish stock] rebuilding goals, to minimize impacts with protected or non-target species, and to ensure sustainable fisheries,” Mr. Tracy noted.

The Council also pointed out the potential unintended consequences of closing U.S. fisheries, including loss of American jobs and greater dependence on seafood imported from countries with illegal fishing.

“Displacing domestic fisheries costs U.S. jobs and increases reliance on foreign fisheries, which in many cases are less sustainably managed than U.S. fisheries, and many of which contribute to illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing, a point of emphasis for your Administration,” Mr. Tracy wrote.

Attached to the Pacific Council’s letter was a letter from the Council Coordination Committee, comprised of senior leaders from all eight regional fishery management councils, voicing concern over the use of the Antiquities Act to designate marine monuments.

“We are concerned that authorities such as the Antiquities Act of 1906 do not explicitly require a robust public process or science-based environmental analyses,” the Councils wrote. “We believe fisheries management decisions should be made using the robust process established by the MSA and successfully used for over forty years.”

Download to read the letter and attachments here – [PDF]

 

 

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