Posts Tagged marine monuments

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

Aug 7 2016

Sandy Smith: Marine monument plan threatens local fishing industry


A new proposal being circulated among lawmakers hopes to convince President Obama to use his executive power to designate seamounts — underwater mountains — as marine monuments off the coast of California.

On the surface, that may sound like a good idea, but a deeper review of the proposal reveals that it threatens to curtail commercial fisheries as well — and that’s not good for Ventura County.

Commercial fishing operations based at the Port of Hueneme, Channel Islands Harbor in Oxnard and the Ventura Harbor serve as foundations of our local economy. Our local fishermen and fish processors rely on these extremely productive fishing grounds, including seamounts, to produce millions of pounds of seafood every year, including tuna, mackerel and market squid.

Closure of these areas to fishing would inflict serious harm to the industry and our communities.

As an example of the impacts to Ventura County, the current squid-landing operation at the Port of Hueneme alone supports nearly 1,400 direct and indirect jobs in the local community, and about $11 million in state and local tax revenues annually.

It also provides $56 million of revenue for local businesses dependent upon existing squid operations.

Not only would the proposal cause serious economic harm, but is it really even necessary?

California already has the most strictly regulated fisheries in the world.

Precautionary policies for protecting resources in federal waters exist under the federal Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, as well as under many other bipartisan laws, such as the Marine Mammal Protection Act and Endangered Species Act.

All of these laws require science-based analysis that is conducted in a fully public and transparent process.

But that’s not what’s happening here. The document “The Case for Protecting California’s Seamounts, Ridges and Banks” was drafted and advanced with no science, no analysis and virtually no public engagement or outreach to the parties who would be most affected by this unilateral action.

That’s why the Ventura County Economic Development Association has joined more than 40 groups representing California’s harbors, communities and fisheries — both recreational and commercial — to oppose the proposed designation of marine monuments off our coast that prohibit commercial fishing.

Such a designation ignores existing law — the Magnuson Act — that is mandated to manage fisheries and whose transparent, science-based process is heralded worldwide for its success. It also contradicts the Obama administration’s own National Ocean Policy Plan, which promises transparency and “robust” stakeholder involvement.

We must not close to fishing a patchwork of areas without scientific analysis or economic assessment. And we must use the best available science to manage fisheries. Otherwise, it’s fishery management by fiat.

Sandy Smith is a former Ventura mayor and City Council member and current chairman of the Ventura County Economic Development Association, which gives members education and policy guidance on issues affecting the economic climate of the greater business community.

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