With a stroke of his executive pen, President Obama has put a vast region of the Pacific Ocean off-limits to Hawaii’s fishing industry
Free Range Report Editorial Staff
Federal overreach now reaches far out to sea.
President Obama’s newest ‘national monument’ has been lauded by media, global environmentalist special interests, and politicos as ‘the largest protected place on on the planet.’ Fishing operations impacted by this cutting stroke of the executive pen are decrying it as “an economic hardship for area fishermen.”
On August 26, Obama expanded the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. And now, a region of the Pacific Oceans, twice the size of Texas, is off-limits to the operations which have fished those waters for generations.
On September 2, the Honolulu Star Advertiser reported:
Opponents of the expansion argued that it would negatively effect Hawaii’s fishing industry, potentially driving up local fish prices and increasing imports. At a protest rally at the Capitol last month, critics also argued that the federal government shouldn’t be dictating what happens in local waters.
“The ocean belongs to us,” Ariyoshi told the media at the rally. “We ought to be the ones who decide what kind of use to make of the ocean. And we don’t want someone from the outside to come, or people from the outside to come, and tell us how to live with the ocean.”
The fishing industry has opposed the expansion, expressing legitimate fears that fishing boats would have to travel far outside their traditional fishing grounds, increasing the cost of operations, and the danger to the fishermen themselves.
Early on, President Obama went full-throttle on his ‘environmentalist legacy,’, and as far back as 2009 proposed putting off-limits an even more massive region of the Western Pacific known as the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument. That proposal would increase the existing ‘protected’ area manifold, from 83,000 square miles to nearly 755,000 square miles. That proposed monument also drew fire from the fishing industry. National Geographic reported:
The Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council, based in Hawaii, had opposed the creation of the monument in 2009. At a boisterous town hall meeting in Honolulu in August and in a meeting at the White House on September 9, representatives of the council made their case against expansion, arguing that current fisheries laws adequately protect marine wildlife.
Simonds says the Hawaii-based longline fleet, which fishes for tuna and other large predatory fish, in 2000 set about 16 percent of its hooks in the area of the proposed monument expansion, marking the high point for fishing there.
That fishery is already a “global model” of sustainability, she says, although she notes that it could be improved. She’d like to see purse seine fishermen switched from vessel day-limits to a catch quota system, which currently governs longline fishermen and is a better way to control overfishing, she says.
The economic impact to the small fishing operations in the regions was also a matter of concern. The report continues:
But American Samoa’s representative to Congress, Eni Faleomavaega, wrote a letter to the president in July opposing the expansion, saying it would have little impact on marine conservation and “prove an economic hardship for area fishermen.”
This newest ‘protected’ region covers 582,578 square miles north and west of the Hawaiian Islands. President George W. Bush made the first designation of the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument in 2006, then 140,000 square miles. The Obama Administration and supporters of the ‘sea grab’ consider this four-fold expansion an action that will positively impact ‘climate change.’
In an NPR Interview, Douglas McCauley, assistant professor at University of California, Santa Barbara, said:
MCCAULEY: Particularly, it’s important because of climate change. So the really important thing that this expansion, this new monument does, is it provides a safe zone. You have to think of coral reefs as being like a cancer patient that has a broken arm and the flu. If you can at least deal with the broken arm and the flu, maybe this patient can do better at kicking cancer, right?
Controversy over the Obama Administration’s unprecedented use of the Antiquities Act to create new national monuments with no congressional oversight, and little public input– except from well-funded and well-organized global ‘conservation’ groups with loyal minions who churn out cut-and-paste emails on a massive scale–is not limited to this latest ‘sea grab.’ Federal land grabs in the form of some 30 new land-based national monuments (it’s hard to keep track) have gobbled up, thus far, nearly 300 million surface acres, mostly in the West.
Interestingly, the Antiquities Act of 1906 was never designed to address marine habitats, or vast ocean surfaces. The actual text of the Antiquities Act applies to “historic landmarks, historic and prehistoric structures, and other objects of historic or scientific interest.” Obama claims the ‘historic’ interest to shipwrecks, most of which are from World War II, and ‘scientific’ interest to the marine animal populations within this vast region. But there’s the kicker. The Antiquities Act also constrains the SIZE of such designations, which must “be confined to the smallest area compatible with the proper care and management of the objects to be protected.”
Sec. 2. That the President of the United States is hereby authorized, in his discretion, to declare by public proclamation historic landmarks, historic and prehistoric structures, and other objects of historic or scientific interest that are situated upon the lands owned or controlled by the Government of the United States to be national monuments, and may reserve as a part thereof parcels of land, the limits of which in all cases shall be confined to the smallest area compatible with proper care and management of the objects to be protected: Provided, That when such objects are situated upon a tract covered by a bona fied unperfected claim or held in private ownership, the tract, or so much thereof as may be necessary for the proper care and management of the object, may be relinquished to the Government, and the Secretary of the Interior is hereby authorized to accept the relinquishment of such tracts in behalf of the Government of the United States.
President Obama once memorably warned Congress that if it didn’t act on his pet policies with the haste which he deemed necessary, that he had a ‘pen and a phone.’ That pen, has been used–and is sharpened and ready to go further still–to lock away fast tracts of sea and land, leavings regions open only for tourism and research. The latest executive stroke has speared the fishing industry in Hawaii, and the families which have sustainably fished what is now Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, for hundreds of years.
Free Range Report Admin.