Hawaii Senator Brian Schatz has received a strongly worded letter from the Western Pacific Fishery Management Council concerning his support of the proposed expansion of the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument in the Northwestern Hawaiian islands.
A local fishermen who has been following the debate on the proposed expansion says we should be concerned with what’s happening with Hawaii’s fishery because we are next.
He says the Hawaii Monument expansion, just like the designation of the Remote Pacific Islands Monument and expansion of the National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa are examples of the influence of funding by special interest groups such as the Pew Foundation.
WPRFMC Chairman Edwin Ebisui Jr and Executive Director Kitty Simonds have reminded Schatz he had previously stated he wouldn’t support any expansion that doesn’t adequately consider the interest and importance of Hawaiis long line fishery.
But the boundaries he’s proposing for monument expansion eliminates the fishery from a substantial portion of its traditional range.
They said the senator’s assertion that a “vigorous carbon sink” will be created by drawing a boundary on the ocean is false as such action would not make that part of the ocean absorb any more carbon than present.
The Council leaders said as Schatz has noted in his statements of support for the expansion, the Hawaii long line fishery uses “responsible and sustainable practices resulting in Honolulu’s recognition as one of the nation’s ten most productive fishing ports.
They asserted that the Hawaii fishery is not simply about economics, it’s also about the sustainability of Hawaii through local food security.
Simonds and Ebsui told the Honolulu Senator, native Hawaiians lost free access to this area with the creation of the monument.
Permits are required for all activities including the voyages of the canoe s of the Polynesian Voyaging Society.
They said if Hawaii long line vessels are pushed out of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, they would have to compete on the high seas with foreign long liners targeting the same fish stocks.
But while the Hawaiian long line fleet have to give notice of all their movements of entry and exit form this zone, the foreign vessels “can and do regularly transit the EEZ and Northwestern Hawaiian Islands unhindered. “
Council Chairman Ebsui and Director Simonds said they are dismayed Sen Schatz didn’t consult with the Council prior to distribution of his letters of support for the expansion, which have “proliferated unsubstantiated statements in the media.
Attached to their letter are 2 1/2 pages of reasons why the proposed expansion is not good.
The Council has asked for a meeting with Senator Schatz to relay their concerns.