In an Executive Order last month President Trump commented on how to improve the competitiveness of American industry by removing “unnecessary” regulatory burdens in our US marine protected areas. After opening up the North Atlantic Marine National Monument to fishing, the administration invited 8 US regional fishery management councils to recommend ways to liberate domestic fishing from regulation and make the US the “new seafood superpower.” These councils. represented largely by industry, have asked to fish in legally protected marine protected areas that are designed to protect fish, habitat and other marine wildlife. The Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council (WESPAC) responded to the President’s appeal by immediately claiming “fishing restrictions in the Pacific marine national monuments are impeding America’s three main tuna fisheries in the Pacific and (they)… have no proven conservation benefit.”
The letter highlighted that “quick action is urgently needed” to meet the “exceptionally high retail demand” for canned tuna due to the global pandemic.
These claims are not supported by a scientific study published this year by a team of economists and scientists who determined that the Pacific marine protected areas in the the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument and the Pacific Remote Islands (established by President GW Bush in 2005 and 2007, and expanded by President Obama in 2014 and 2016) had little if any negative impacts on commercial fisheries. In fact, the study determined that Hawaii’s longline fleet had actually caught more fish after the monuments were expanded.
These industrial tuna fishers have appealed to open the Pacific Marine National Monuments to commercial fishing. With Earth Island Institute and the International Marine Mammal Project, we are preparing for legal battle to protect nearly 25% of the total Pacific marine protected areas from tuna and shark fishing.
Support our work and sign the petition to tell the Trump Administration hands off the healthiest coral reefs in US waters.