Quantcast
Oceans
Grey reef sharks swim in the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument, which could be opened to commercial fishing under a NOAA proposal. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service / CC BY 2.0

NOAA Proposes Opening Marine Monuments to Fishing Within 90 Days

When reports surfaced in June that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) might shift the language of its mission statement away from climate and conservation and towards security and the economy, acting head Rear Admiral Timothy Gallaudet rushed to reassure reporters that the agency's mission would remain unchanged.


But a copy of the presentation in which Gallaudet floated the language change, reviewed by The Huffington Post Thursday, reveals a much more specific proposal which exemplifies what a shift away from conservation might mean: opening marine national monuments to commercial fishing.

Gallaudet gave the presentation at the Department of Commerce's "Vision Setting Summit." In it, he outlined the Commerce Department's "Strategic Priorities for 2018," which included cutting the U.S. seafood trade deficit (the U.S. imports more than 80 percent of the seafood it consumes) and expanding maritime commerce. To meet those goals, he proposed granting "permit fishing in marine monuments" within 90 days of the meeting.

The proposal comes as the world's oceans are increasingly threatened by plastics and overfishing. As of 2016, nearly 90 percent of fisheries were either fished to capacity or overfished. Another 2016 report warned there could be more plastic than fish in the ocean by 2050.

For Oceans 5 program director Seth Horstmeyer, Gaulladet's proposal would "fly in the face" of the goal of the marine national monument program, which is to preserve ocean ecosystems and resources, including fisheries. He told The Huffington Post that allowing fishing in these protected waters would turn them into "paper monuments."

Horstmeyer also said that fishing in marine monuments would do nothing to impact how much fish the U.S. catches relative to other countries.

"Each year the Hawaii-based longline fishery is allocated a quota for how much bigeye tuna they can catch, so opening marine monuments will not allow more fish to be caught and certainly will not reduce the trade deficit," he said.

Despite this, opening marine national monuments to fishing is not a new idea for the Trump administration.

In 2017, President Donald Trump signed executive orders asking for a review of 27 national monuments on land and sea.

A draft of a report by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke leaked to the press in September recommended opening the Pacific Remote Islands, Rose Atoll and Northeast Canyons and Seamounts marine national monuments to commercial fishing, but the final draft of his report did not mention authorizing commercial fishing in any particular monument.

Instead, it suggested Trump lift the current prohibition on fishing in monuments and move authority over fisheries to regional councils as allowed by the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act of 1976.

NOAA spokeswoman Julie Roberts called attention to Gaulladet's statement when news of the presentation first surface last week, in which he said it was not "a final, vetted proposal." But when asked about fishing specifically, Roberts did mention Zinke's proposal for managing fisheries in national monuments based on the 1976 act.

"Successful implementation of this statute has been the key to the U.S. having the most sustainable wild-caught fisheries management in the world," Roberts wrote in an email to The Huffington Post. She did not answer questions about which monuments could be impacted.

Show Comments ()

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Sponsored
Animals
Two baby Loggerhead turtles. U.S. Air Force / Senior Airman Veronica McMahon

A Record 589 Sea Turtles Killed By Florida's Toxic Red Tide

Florida's longest red tide in more than a decade has killed scores of the state's most iconic marine animals.

The current outbreak, which began in October 2017 off southwest Florida, has been tied to a record 589 sea turtle deaths and 213 manatee deaths, the Herald-Tribune reported, citing figures from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

Keep reading... Show less
Animals
Lake Baikal. W0zny / Wikimedia / CC BY-SA 3.0

Wildlife Under Siege at the World’s Oldest Lake

By Marlene Cimons

Lake Baikal is the world's oldest and deepest lake. It's at least 20 million years old, and roughly a mile deep at its lowest point. The Siberian lake contains holds more water than all the North American Great Lakes combined, what amounts to more than one-fifth of all the water found in lakes, swamps and rivers. It was formed by the shifting of tectonic plates, which created a valley that filled with water. That shift continues today at a rate of around 1 to 2 centimeters year, meaning the world's biggest lake is only getting bigger.

Keep reading... Show less
Insights/Opinion
Oil rig operating next to a walk and bike way in the Signal Hill area of Los Angeles. Sarah Craig / Faces of Fracking / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

U.S. Oil and Gas Industry Is Drilling Us Towards Climate Disaster

By Kelly Trout

As the 116th Congress commences, in the wake of dire reports from climate scientists, the debate over U.S. climate policies has taken a welcome turn towards bold solutions. Spurred on by grassroots pressure from Indigenous communities, the youth-led Sunrise Movement and communities from coast to coast fighting fossil fuel infrastructure, Capitol Hill is alive once again with policy proposals that edge towards the scale required to address the crisis we're in.

Keep reading... Show less
Animals
Bumblebee on goldenrod. Jim Hudgins / USFWS

Half of Michigan's Bumblebee Species in Decline, One Extinct

Honeybees get a lot of attention for their worrisome decline, but many species of bumblebees—which are key pollinators—are also in trouble.

In Michigan, half of its bumblebee species have declined by 50 percent or more, Michigan Radio reported.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Popular
Bound bales of crushed plastic bottles and containers sit stacked ready to be recycled at a recycling center in the Netherlands. Jasper Juinen / Bloomberg / Getty Images

Toward a Circular Economy: Tackling the Plastics Recycling Problem

By Margaret Sobkowicz

Why has the world continued to increase consumption of plastic materials when at the same time, environmental and human health concerns over their use have grown?

Keep reading... Show less
Oceans
Bleached coral at the Great Barrier Reef. The Ocean Agency / XL Catlin Seaview Survey / Richard Vevers

2018 Was the Hottest Year Ever Recorded for Our Oceans

The year 2018 was the hottest year for the planet's oceans ever since record-keeping began in 1958, according to a worrisome new study from international scientists.

The findings, published Wednesday in the journal Advances in Atmospheric Sciences, noted that the five warmest years for our oceans were the last five years—2018, 2017, 2015, 2016 and 2014 (in order of decreasing ocean heat content).

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
EPA Acting Administrator Wheeler / EPA

Senate Shouldn’t Put Wheeler at the Wheel of the EPA

By Ana Unruh Cohen

As the longest government shut down in history drags on, and the experts protecting our air and water remain off the job, the Senate is barreling forward to put Andrew Wheeler at the wheel of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). He is unfit for this public trust.

In his seven-month tenure as the acting administrator at EPA, Wheeler's relentlessly pushed to advance the pro-polluter agenda launched by Scott Pruitt, the worst administrator in the agency's storied 48-year history. Wheeler may lack Pruitt's scandals, but he's no improvement.

Keep reading... Show less
Health
Westend61 / Getty Images

Top 20 Healthy Salad Toppings

By Lizzie Streit, MS, RDN, LD

Salads are typically made by combining lettuce or mixed greens with an assortment of toppings and a dressing.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

mail-copy

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