Thursday, September 11, 2008

267. Our Illustrious House

Our illustrious House has once again voted in support of a resolution AGAINST the Marianas Trench national marine monument proposal. You can read about it here or here.

This would be funny if it weren't so tragic.

1. They're complaining that this would be federal acton without local input. But under the proposal, based on what was done in Hawaii, the CNMI would be at the table with the federal government, helping to craft enforcement and other regulations.

2. They're complaining that this would stop fishing, mining, and other extractive activities in the area and prevent this in the future. Yes, it would. That's the whole point of CONSERVATION. (As my daughter would say, DUH!)

But right now, there are NO local fishing, mining, or extractive activities going on. And there don't seem to be any economically feasible activities from the CNMI for this in the near future (this according to past reports from WESPAC and others). All we have are some Taiwanese fishing boats poaching in our waters. So we're going to turn down an opportunity to SAVE our marine environment on the off-chance that sometime in the future we might want to join the exploiters and ruin it?

3. "We're not shutting the door here," he (Tebuteb) said. "What we're saying is hold on now. Couldn't we have at least afforded a couple of years?" A COUPLE OF YEARS?!!! Because you couldn't read up on the crisis of our oceans in a day or two? You couldn't think about this issue before, say, next month? You need YEARS?!!!

4. Representative JJ Camacho claims that the majority of the people of the CNMI are against the proposed monument. I have no idea how he came to that conclusion (well, yes, I do. He says he got it from talking to some people at rosaries, etc.) But has the Legislature held hearings? I've been talking to people,too. I've been out collecting signatures. There is no doubt that some in the community are against the proposal, but many, many, many people support it, including the business community, those interested in protecting the environment, kids and their parents. And the people who oppose it generally labor under some blatant misconception. (For example, one person had heard that it included Pagan and Alamagan and all islands north of Saipan!) It's amazing to me how many people do support it.

All I know is that I'll be looking to vote AGAINST all of the legislators in the House in my precinct, except for Ed Salas. (Heinz and Tina also support the Marianas Trench monument, or at least did not agree with the proposal against it.)


Anonymous said...

Hi Jane,

I would like to see a listing of the legislators who voted against this marine monument. We need to know who to vote for next time around. CNMI has to get rid of the chaff, deadwood, culls, and discards.

Love your article.

Tamara said...

I watched the news last night and was so disappointed and disgusted! Wear a t-shirt supporting the monument to the rally on Thursday!

KAP said...

The list who opposed the resolution is shorter. From the Marianas Variety:

Only three members voted against House Joint Resolution 16-13 — Reps. Tina Sablan, Ind.-Saipan, Heinz S. Hofschneider, R-Saipan, and Edward T. Salas, R-Saipan.

Ray never talked to me about it. Oh, well.

Saipan Writer said...

I've been trying to get information. 15 voted for the resolution against the national marine monument. 3 voted against the resuolution (so in support of the monument). But there are 20 Legislators, so 2 apparently didn't vote.

We know those AGAINST THE MONUMENT included Ray Tebuteb (who sponsored the resolution) and J.J. Norita Camacho, who justified his vote with one of the lame excuses noted.

We know the three who supported the monument (and voted against the resolution against the monument)--Tina Sablan, Ed Salas, and Heinz Hofschneider.

But I haven't been able to get information yet on who was absent and who voted.

It's a pretty safe bet though to vote against every Legislator in the House, except for Tina, Ed, and Heinz.


Saipan Writer said...

Ah yes, the two absent were Rosemund Santos and Ray Yumul.

I think Ray Yumul is deployed at present, so his absence is no surprise.

Has anyone else noticed that Rosemund is absent a lot? I'm disappointed.

cactus said...

I'm pro-fish but anti-fed. Should I support the monument? Why or why not?

Saipan Writer said...


I think you should. No one really loves the federal government. But in this case, your choices --and I'm specifically talking about the waters around Uracas, Maug, and Asuncion here, look like this:

1. maintain the status quo --which means that the Federal Government controls the EEZ (from shore to 200 miles) and the federal agency WESPAC sets rules and regulations for the use and abuse of the marine environment. WESPAC's policies have been characterized as "fish here, fish now" and they contribute, along with the rest of the unregulated world's policies, to an incredible depletion of our ocean's marine life and environment.

2. opt for a national marine monument. This does not change ownership of the EEZ (AND does not change ownership of the land -islands of Uracas, Maug, Asuncion), but it sets up the possibility for the CNMI and the U.S. to work together, co-manage, the national marine monument. The CNMI could help enforce protections, issue licenses, etc. And the ultimate goal--protecting the marine environment--is more likely to be achieved, with federal funding support.

There are many more things I could say, but I'll leave it at this for now.

Thanks for asking. I think this is one of the most significant dilemmas that many people who haven't yet decided are facing.

cactus said...

Let's say the optimal scenario is neither of these, but rather something like this:

Transfer of ownership and control of the EEZ to the CNMI, together with the establishment of a jointly owned and managed national-commonwealth monument in the northernmost islands (a kind of "condominium," as they used to say in the New Hebrides).

Would adoption of the current monument proposal tend to make such a scenario more likely to achieve in the future, or less likely?

Saipan Writer said...


First to answer your specific question, and this is just my opinion, less likely, but that assumes there is any likelihood at all of your scenario happening. And I'm not sure there is.

As I understand it, the U.S. has already offered the CNMI 12 miles of EEZ from the high-water mark and the CNMI has turned it down, demanding the full 200 miles. I can't imagine that the U.S. would give the CNMI the full 200 mile EEZ.

And if the CNMI got 12 miles, and the U.S. kept the rest, then you're back to needing a national marine monument under the Antiquities Act, or a sanctuary under another federal law, PLUS legislation from the CNMI Congress, and cooperative agreements, etc. Which would make a conservation sanctuary even more difficult to achieve than the present proposal and less likely to happen.

I don't see that happening.

The end result of what is being proposed isn't far off from what you describe as "optimal" though--although the U.S. has the EEZ, the CNMI has ownership of the islands. This is why "co-management" (instead of "co-ownership") of the national marine monument would be essential.

Personally, I'd like to see the conservation happen. And the sooner the better. Designation as a national marine monument now is the fastest and most comprehensive protection that can be provided to the marine environment.

If this doesn't happen, it means there'll be no protection beyond the feeble twice-a-year trips the U.S. Coast Guard now makes; no Visitors' Center here on Saipan where not only our children but all of the hundred thousands of tourists who visit can learn something about marine protection; no intense scientific studies; and by far the worst-the possibility of greater damage to this corner of the world.