September 29, 2015
Today, the Subcommittee on Water, Power and Oceans held an oversight hearing on the designations of Marine National Monuments, which are unilateral executive actions that usurp established regional fisheries management plans and impose significant economic and environmental impacts regionally and nationwide.
In particular, the hearing focused on the threat of Marine National Monument designations off Cape Cod in New England and the Aleutian Islands in Alaska under the Antiquities Act of 1906. President Obama has already expanded existing Marine National Monuments by more than 400,000 square miles, an area larger than the states of Texas and New Mexico combined.
Members and witnesses reviewed the utter lack of public input in prior unilateral monument designations and the adverse effects posed by potential future designations to America’s fisheries and the thousands of jobs supported by the seafood industry.
“[t]he impact of these potential designations would be devastating to the local communities and economies, there is much more at stake here. According to federal statistics, the North Pacific and New England rank one and two in total landings revenue by region – well over half of U.S. harvested seafood landings. The only thing monumental in all of this is the staggering impact it could have on our seafood markets,” Subcommittee Chairman John Fleming (R-LA) stated.
“Our food supply is already being compromised by natural drought and land and water regulation and now we have environmental activists using a deeply flawed law in an attempt to close commercial fishing off the coasts of Alaska and New England. It’s no doubt they are banking on this Administration to help,” stated Vice-chair Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ).
Jon Williams, President of the Atlantic Red Crab Company, served as a witness for the hearing and stressed the lack of public input in the designation process and the faulty data used to justify the designation.
“There are no imminent threats to the Continental Shelf Canyons or the Atlantic seamounts from the Atlantic red crab industry or the other fisheries that operate in the proposed area. After spending millions of taxpayer dollars exploring and photographing these canyons, there has yet to be one shred of evidence of any damage caused by red crab fishing gear—even the supporters of the proposal have called these areas “pristine” after 40 years of red crab fishing,” Williams stated.
“The most troublesome thing about the use of the Antiquities Act to create marine national monuments is the complete lack of meaningful public input,” Williams added.
Please click here for more information regarding the hearing.