Trump ad­vised to al­ter Pa­cific Re­mote Is­lands mon­u­ment

Honolulu Star-Advertiser - - LOCAL & BUSINESS - By An­drew Gomes agomes@starad­ver­

Com­mer­cial fish­ing has been banned for nearly a decade in 490,534 square miles of water around sev­eral western Pa­cific is­lands and atolls. But that could change based on a rec­om­men­da­tion is­sued Tues­day to Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump.

U.S. In­te­rior Sec­re­tary Ryan Zinke is ad­vis­ing that his boss amend bound­aries of the Pa­cific Re­mote Is­lands Ma­rine Na­tional Mon­u­ment — a zone that has been de­scribed as one of the largest pro­tected ar­eas on Earth.

As part of his rec­om­men­da­tion, Zinke said a re­gional fishery man­age­ment coun­cil should reg­u­late com­mer­cial fish­ing in the area, which is south and west of Hawaii and sur­rounds three is­lands — How­land, Baker and Jarvis — as well as three atolls — John­ston, Wake and Palmyra — plus King­man Reef.

The Western Pa­cific Re­gional Fishery Man­age­ment Coun­cil, which man­aged com­mer­cial fish­ing in the area be­fore it was pro­tected as a mon­u­ment by Pres­i­dent Ge­orge W. Bush in 2009 and then ex­panded by Pres­i­dent Barack Obama in 2014, sup­ports Zinke’s rec­om­men­da­tion.

But en­vi­ron­men­tal con­ser­va­tion groups, in­clud­ing Earthjus­tice, op­pose any re­duc­tion in the mon­u­ment’s size or eas­ing of re­stric­tions on com­mer­cial fish­ing within.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Ser­vice de­scribes the mon­u­ment area as “the last refu­gia for fish and wildlife species rapidly van­ish­ing from the re­main­der of the planet,” in­clud­ing sea tur­tles, dol­phins, whales, pearl oys­ters, gi­ant clams, large groupers and sharks.

“From these pro­tected wa­ters, we can gain knowl­edge that can be ap­plied else­where to im­prove co­ral reef man­age­ment in more pop­u­lated ar­eas,” the agency states. “They are ideal ‘lab­o­ra­to­ries’ for as­sess­ing the ef­fects of cli­mate change with­out di­rect hu­man im­pacts. And by pro­tect­ing the Pa­cific Re­mote Is­lands Ma­rine Na­tional Mon­u­ment and the na­tional wildlife refuges within it, fu­ture gen­er­a­tions of Amer­i­cans will still have the op­por­tu­nity to sense the won­der of the world of na­ture in the midst of the Pa­cific.”

Zinke made his rec­om­men­da­tion in a fi­nal re­port re­leased Tues­day, a day af­ter Trump shrunk the size of two na­tional mon­u­ments in Utah via procla­ma­tion.

Trump asked in April for a

re­view of sev­eral na­tional mon­u­ments es­tab­lished by prior pres­i­dents un­der the Antiquities Act. One of those mon­u­ments, Pa­pa­hanaumokuakea, sur­round­ing the North­west­ern Hawai­ian Is­lands, was re­viewed by the In­te­rior De­part­ment and re­sulted in no rec­om­mended change, ac­cord­ing to the re­port sum­mary.

Pa­pa­hanaumokuakea was also es­tab­lished by Bush and ex­panded by Obama.

One other na­tional ma­rine mon­u­ment, Rose Atoll, es­tab­lished by Bush in 2009 near Amer­i­can Samoa, re­ceived the same rec­om­men­da­tion as the Pa­cific Re­mote Is­lands mon­u­ment.

The In­te­rior De­part­ment said it re­ceived 2.8 mil­lion pub­lic com­ments on its mon­u­ment re­view, and Zinke said in his re­port that he met with lo­cal gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials and stake­hold­ers as well as con­ser­va­tion ad­vo­cates and oth­ers be­fore mak­ing a


Zinke’s memo to the pres­i­dent didn’t sug­gest spe­cific bound­ary size changes for the two ma­rine mon­u­ments, but rec­om­mended that the bound­aries be re­vised. Zinke’s

rec­om­men­da­tion also said the re­gional fishery man­age­ment coun­cil should make fishery-man­age­ment decisions for fish­ing in the ar­eas.

The Western Pa­cific

coun­cil en­dorsed Zinke’s move, and said through spokes­woman Sylvia Spald­ing that the coun­cil had main­tained the ar­eas as pris­tine with high bio­di­ver­sity since 1976 when it be­gan man­ag­ing the re­gion.

“Man­age­ment of fish­eries should be done through the Re­gional Fishery Man­age­ment Coun­cils un­der the Mag­nu­son-Stevens Fishery Con­ser­va­tion and Man­age­ment Act and not through the Antiquities Act,” the coun­cil said in a state­ment.

The coun­cil, which in­cludes fish­ing in­dus­try rep­re­sen­ta­tives, said the Pa­cific Re­mote Is­lands mon­u­ment is mostly deep open ocean with highly mi­gra­tory fish.

Paul Achitoff, an Earthjus­tice at­tor­ney in Honolulu, scoffed at the Western Pa­cific coun­cil’s claim of main­tain­ing the area as a pris­tine ecosys­tem.

“West­pac is prob­a­bly the sin­gle most anti-en­vi­ron­men­tal or­ga­ni­za­tion op­er­at­ing in the Pa­cific,” he said. “West­pac has long been dom­i­nated by com­mer­cial fish­er­men. All they care about is max­i­miz­ing their prof­its.”

Achitoff, who said Earthjus­tice at­tor­neys have been en­gaged in a dozen or so law­suits over coun­cil ac­tions, also be­lieves that the coun­cil has an ob­jec­tive to con­trol the turf they were given in 1976.


A reef in the Palmyra Atoll Na­tional Wildlife Refuge, which is part of the larger Pa­cific Re­mote Is­lands Ma­rine Na­tional Mon­u­ment. The pres­i­dent is be­ing asked to al­ter pro­tec­tion bound­aries for the area and reg­u­late com­mer­cial fish­ing there.


The Pa­cific Re­mote Is­lands Ma­rine Na­tional Mon­u­ment cov­ers 490,534 square miles where com­mer­cial fish­ing is pro­hib­ited. A smaller mon­u­ment area was ini­tially es­tab­lished by Pres­i­dent Ge­orge W. Bush in 2009 and then ex­panded to its cur­rent area by Pres­i­dent Barack Obama in 2014. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump is be­ing urged to amend the bound­ary and let a re­gional agency re­sume man­ag­ing the area and de­cide whether to al­low com­mer­cial fish­ing.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.