Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Zinke Recommends Opening Up Pacific National Monuments to Commercial Fishing

Popular

The Trump administration is considering cutting protections for two national monuments lying south of Hawaii in the central Pacific. The decision, scientists warn, will threaten reefs across the Pacific.

The move, according to a memo from Interior Sec. Ryan Zinke obtained by the Washington Post in September, would "allow commercial fishing" in the Pacific Remote Islands National Marine Monument and the Rose Atoll National Marine Monument.


The monuments, both created by former president Bush, protect the waters of a scattering of mostly uninhabited Islands south of Hawaii.

Although the shore reefs of these islands have long enjoyed protection from commercial fishing, the monument designations extended that protection between 50 and 200 miles from shore.

For marine biologists, these marine reserves are among the last untouched, vibrant ecosystems where scientists can study the effects of climate change without the interference of variables such as fishing and pollution.

But this hasn't stopped the fishing industry from pursuing a drastic change to the two monuments. An obscure, quasi-governmental, Honolulu-based organization called the Western Pacific Fishery Management Council, or Wespac, is influencing the administration's reconsideration of the monuments' protections.

Over the years, Wespac has opposed the creation and expansion of marine monuments. Instead, the group has argued that limits on catch, gear and fishing seasons are the best regulatory tools to ensure the maximum sustainable yields.

In 2017, Wespac unveiled a new slogan: "Make America Great Again: Return U.S. fisherman to U.S. waters." In a presentation to other fishery councils in February, Wespac officials claimed the monuments "compromised national food security."

The New York Times noted that the Hawaii fishing fleet's catch has doubled since 2006.

Many scientists see marine reserves as crucial to the health of surrounding waters, giving fishing populations the space they need to grow.

The consideration to remove the monuments' protections came just weeks before scientists from the Nature Conservancy briefed Hawaii lawmakers on the unprecedented state of Hawaii's ocean life. The briefing, given last Thursday, noted that nearly half of Hawaii's coral reefs were bleached between 2014 and 2015, while fisheries experienced a 90 percent decline in overall catch from the last 100 years, a decline partly attributed to overfishing.

Coral reefs, while occupying less than 0.2 percent of the world's oceans, host more than 35 percent of all known marine species.

These fragile ecosystems already face serious threats from destructive fishing activities and water pollution.

Recent years have thrown their fragility into relief. An estimated 70 percent of coral reefs around the globe experienced prolonged high temperatures that can lead to bleaching events.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

An aerial view of a crude oil storage facility of Caspian Pipeline Consortium (CPC) in the Krasnodar Territory. Vitaly Timkiv / TASS / Getty Images

Oil rigs around the world keep pulling crude oil out of the ground, but the global pandemic has sent shockwaves into the market. The supply is up, but demand has plummeted now that industry has ground to a halt, highways are empty, and airplanes are parked in hangars.

Read More Show Less
Examples (from left) of a lead pipe, a corroded steel pipe and a lead pipe treated with protective orthophosphate. U.S. EPA Region 5

Under an agreement negotiated by community groups — represented by NRDC and the Pennsylvania Utility Law Project — the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority (PWSA) will remove thousands of lead water pipes by 2026 in order to address the chronically high lead levels in the city's drinking water and protect residents' health.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
ROBYN BECK / AFP / Getty Images

By Dave Cooke

So, they finally went and did it — the Trump administration just finalized a rule to undo requirements on manufacturers to improve fuel economy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from new passenger cars and trucks. Even with the economy at the brink of a recession, they went forward with a policy they know is bad for consumers — their own analysis shows that American drivers are going to spend hundreds of dollars more in fuel as a result of this stupid policy — but they went ahead and did it anyway.

Read More Show Less

By Richard Connor

A blood test that screens for more than 50 types of cancer could help doctors treat patients at an earlier stage than previously possible, a new study shows. The method was used to screen for more than 50 types of cancer — including particularly deadly variants such as pancreatic, ovarian, bowel and brain.

Read More Show Less
Ian Sane / Flickr

Preliminary data from the Centers for Disease Control showed a larger number of young people coming down with COVID-19 than first expected, with patients under the age of 45 comprising more than a third of all cases, and one in five of those patients requiring hospitalization. That also tends to be the group most likely to use e-cigarettes.

Read More Show Less