Save Hawaii Fisheries
Save Hawaii Fisheries
Petition the President of the United States to Not expand the outer boundary of the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Moument from 50 nautical miles out to 200 nautical miles around the Northwest Hawaiian Islands. This will have a devastating impact on small business, fisheries, and culture without justification or public input. Our Kauai Fishermen run the risk of loosing middle bank and key fish grounds.
Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument (PMNM).
Established in 2006 by Pres. George W. Bush, this marine protected area (MPA) currently encompasses the Northwestern Hawaiian Island (NWHI) chain, covering an area 100 miles wide and 1200 miles long. It sits within the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of Hawaii’s waters, a swath of ocean that’s 400 miles wide and includes both the PMNM and the Main Hawaiian Islands.
Half of the bottomfish for Hawaii and most of the lobster came from the area within the PMNM, prior to the establishment of the monument. Fishing boats operated in that area for decades with very little ecological impact. Early in the 21st Century, it was decided that the near-pristine condition of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands should be protected indefinitely, and that was the rationale for creating the PMNM.
Now there are groups that are asking Pres. Obama to expand the PMNM to include the entire EEZ around the NWHI. Imagine an area that would be as long as the distance between the borders of Canada and Mexico, and wider than the state of California.
A significant percentage of the fresh fish we depend upon will be unavailable. And this is at a time when our fleet is the only one operating in the Pacific that is equipped with GPS tracking systems, operate under strict rules to protect endangered species, and have federal monitors aboard to log everything that’s caught and released.
And all the fish caught by our fleet is tracked even after it’s unloaded at the pier and heads to the market. Every pound can be found.
Our longline fishing fleet, comprised mostly of family-operated boats, will be forced to compete with much larger foreign fleets that have few, if any, restrictions. Those other fleets have little monitoring, few regulations, and catch more than 98% of the tuna in the Pacific. It could drive some of our fishermen out of business, reduce the availability of fresh-caught fish, and increasing prices that are already high.
As for claims that the expansion of the monument would provide greater protection for endangered species, the best scientific information available conflicts with the claims being made by the proponents of an enlarged MPA.
— Marine resources within the PMNM and the EEZ are well protected with existing fishery management regulations and close monitoring.
— Expanding the monument will not provide additional conservation benefits for species such as tuna, billfish, sharks, sea turtles and marine mammals. These animals are constantly moving, and range far beyond the EEZ. They often fall prey to unregulated and unmonitored foreign fishing vessels fishing in the greater Pacific.
— Seabirds such as the Laysan and black-footed albatross are already protected by domestic and international laws, as well as by well-tested bycatch mitigation techniques, and would not benefit at all from an expansion of the monument.
— Claims that citizens would be allowed entry for cultural reasons aren’t supported by the history of the existing monument. Getting permits to enter the area are extremely difficult to obtain for any reason. And this is not in keeping with the way other natural monuments operate. Yellowstone National Park, the Sequioa National Forest, the Grand Canyon, Mt. St. Helens, and more than a hundred other national monuments are open to the public. Not the PMNM. No one is allowed into that area except for certain researchers.
Hawaii is the only state in the nation that relies so heavily on its ocean resources. And we are the most isolated spot on Earth. At a time when we need to be increasing our capability of becoming more self-sufficient, there are calls to take those much-needed resources away, and put our food security at risk.
We humbly ask that you do not expand the North West Hawaiian Islands Marine Monument.