Quantcast
Trump Watch

Zinke Recommends Opening Up Pacific National Monuments to Commercial Fishing

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.

Show Comments ()
Sponsored
Popular

5 Recent Victories for the Oceans

By Andy Sharpless

In the last several weeks, Oceana and its allies won five important victories that will help protect biodiversity and increase abundance in our seas:

Keep reading... Show less
Snow in Atlanta on Jan. 17, 2018. Lisa Panero / Flickr

Climate Change and Weather Extremes: Both Heat and Cold Can Kill

By Garth Heutel, David Molitor and Nolan Miller

Climate change is increasing the frequency and strength of some types of extreme weather in the U.S., particularly heat waves. Last summer the U.S. Southwest experienced life-threatening heat waves, which are especially dangerous for elderly people and other vulnerable populations.

More recently, record-setting cold temperatures engulfed much of the country during the first week of 2018. This arctic blast has been blamed for dozens of deaths. Some scientists believe that Arctic warming may be a factor in this type of persistent cold spell, although others question this connection.

Keep reading... Show less
Trump Watch
U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Cristian L. Ricardo

One Year Into the Trump Administration, Where Do We Stand?

By John R. Platt

What a long, strange year it's been.

Saturday, Jan. 20 marks the one-year anniversary of the Trump administration officially taking office after a long and arduous election. It's a year that has seen seemingly unending attacks on science and the environment, along with a rise in hateful rhetoric and racially motivated policies. But it's almost been met by the continuing growth of the efforts to resist what the Trump administration has to offer.

Keep reading... Show less
Popular

Chris J. Ratcliffe / Greenpeace

Greenpeace Slams Coca-Cola Plastic Announcement as ‘Dodging the Main Issue’

By Louise Edge

Friday Greenpeace criticized Coca-Cola's new global plastics plan for failing to address the urgency of ocean plastic pollution.

The long awaited policy from the world's largest soft drink company featured a series of measures weaker than those previously announced for Europe and the UK.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Animals
The two young Iowa vandals knocked over 50 hives and exposed the bees to deadly winter temperatures. Colby Stopa / Flickr

Two Boys Charged With Killing Half a Million Honeybees in Iowa

Two boys were charged with killing more than a half million bees at a honey business in Iowa last month.

"All of the beehives on the honey farm were destroyed and approximately 500,000 bees perished in the frigid temperatures," Sioux City police said in a release.

Keep reading... Show less
Energy

Are Microwaves Really as Bad for the Environment as Cars?

According to many headlines blared around the Internet this week, "microwaves are as damaging to the environment as cars." But this misleading information, based on a new study from the University of Manchester, hopefully doesn't make you feel guilty about zapping your next Hot Pocket.

The research, published in the journal Science of the Total Environment, found that microwave ovens across the European Union generate as much carbon dioxide as nearly 7 million cars and consume an estimated 9.4 terawatts per hour of electricity per year. Okay, that sounds like a lot. But also consider that there are about 130 million microwaves in Europe and some 291 million vehicles on its roads.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
GMO

Monsanto's Roundup Destroys Healthy Microbes in Humans and in Soils

By Julie Wilson

We're only beginning to learn the importance of healthy gut bacteria to our overall health—and the relationship between healthy soil and the human microbiome.

We know that the human microbiome, often referred to as our "second brain," plays a key role in our health, from helping us digest the food we eat, to boosting our brain function and regulating our immune systems.

Keep reading... Show less
Trump Watch
Interior Sec. Ryan Zinke refused to meet with National Park System Advisory Board members last year, prompting most of them to quit. Gage Skidmore / Flickr

From National Parks to the EPA, Trump Administration Stiff-Arms Science Advisers

By Elliott Negin

The Trump administration's testy relationship with science reminds me of that old saying: Advice is least heeded when most needed.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

mail-copy

The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!