Wednesday, April 30, 2008
It may help to ask for support for the National Marine Monument from our Resident Representative: firstname.lastname@example.org And while you're there, thank him for his rational approach on S.2739-
WHICH HAS NOW PASSED THE HOUSE*!!! yay!
*according to info on "Unheard No More"--at 7:17 PM EST (which I thought would be in about 5 minutes, but I never could figure out those time charts).
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
There have been some different analogies used about the proposal for a national marine monument:
John Gourley analogized the ocean to a bank, and the national marine monument to a bank policy that let us look at our wealth but not have access to it in times of need. As I mentioned previously, this analogy is oh so wrong because 1) the world is not an unlimited bank from which we can withdraw endlessly; 2) if it is a bank, we are not the "depositors" in the bank and thus don't have the right to withdraw; and 3) even with banks, not having policies that regulate what can be withdrawn will result in bankruptcy.
Besides there is an underlying fallacy in the bank analogy. It presupposes that the national marine monument closes the door to withdrawing needed resources. Here's a map taken from The Saipan Blog.
If the ocean is a bank, then the withdrawal doors look very wide open. Even if ALL of the yellow zones became protected areas, there is still a lot of ocean left to withdraw from.
In today's letter to the editor , Brad Doerr affirms that the CNMI Legislature was right to go slowly, be cautious, look both ways before crossing the street on the Pew proposal for a National Marine Monument. I think that Mr. Doerr was trying to be conciliatory and diplomatic, trying to get the Legislators to come back to sanity and recast their votes in favor of the National Marine Monument.
But the analogy doesn't work for me. As I view it, we're already standing in the middle of the road. Traffic is whizzing around us, killing our oceans and warming our globe. Pew Charitable Trust is like a kindly safety guard who's rushed out to guide us safely to the side of the road to protect our life. And the CNMI, like a foolish, stupid, immature child, is saying "no, I don't have to move if I don't want to."
Smash, crash. We're all doomed.
Pew Charitable Trust, for their part, have gone off to rescue someone smarter, someone who sees the danger and wants the rescue. Someone who might even say thank you when they're safely on the side of the road.
Monday, April 28, 2008
Less good news: Check out Unheard No More for some ruminations on Willie Tan's fishing interests (in light of the proposed national marine monument here).
EDIT: Angelo says that Jerry Tan will be writing a letter in support of the national marine monument. That's good to hear. Sometimes it's good to discuss rumors and ruminations, conspiracy theories and all, because you get information that helps provide a fuller picture. According to Angelo (correct me if I read this wrong), the Tan fishing venture doesn't fish in the area where the monument is proposed. So who does fish up there? And is the opposition more about the potential mining interests?
Other ruminations: Dengre's recent post on Daily Kos, tying Willie Tan's influence to Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. Yes, I was fully supporting Hillary. Give me time. I'm reconsidering.
Saturday, April 26, 2008
And I'm watching how you vote.
For all of you who voted against the marine national monument, you've lost my support. For some, I'm not in your district, so JJCamacho, feel free to ignore me. Don't bother smiling at me next time. Ralph Torres, you have a beautiful family. Don't mind my tears as I think how your children and future grandchildren will suffer for an ocean that you failed to protect. For those who never had my support, enjoy whatever those corrupting influences are putting in your pocket. You can't take it with you when you die.
Rosemond, I voted for you in the last election. Know that I now regret that. Your vote on the resolution against the national marine monument is such a disappointment. Perhaps you'll win back my vote between now and the next election. But you'll have to show more intelligence.
I'm only one voter. But I'm not alone in being upset at the recent stupidity of the Legislature. There's no other word for it.
And to Tina Sablan, Heinz Hofschneider, and Ed Salas, THANK YOU. Thank you for being intelligent. Thank you for being honest. Thank you for looking to the future of the CNMI.
To blog readers: if you want to make your concerns known directly to the CNMI House, you can leave a message on Floor Leader Camacho's website. The Pew Charitable Trust Fund/national marine monument issue is under "legislative, misc. , other." Not exactly easy to find, but with a little persistence you can register your sentiments.
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
Sunday, April 20, 2008
Looks like fun.
Friday, April 18, 2008
Perhaps the poor attendance by movie-goers is caused by the quality and selection of films as much as (or more than) the dwindling availablity of disposable income. I think with better movies there might be higher attendance numbers. I wanted to go last night just to support the movie theatre, but I had absolutely no desire to see any of the movies listed. Certainly as we head into the hotter months of July and August, we'll all be craving a cool afternoon spot with a bit of entertainment.
Thursday, April 17, 2008
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
Despite what Mr. Gourley says, the submerged lands issue is resolved. Roughly speaking, the submerged lands around our islands belong to the U.S. as an "exclusive economic zone" under U.S. law because no other alternative was reserved or defined in the Covenant. This is based on U.S. law.
(EDIT: I previously said: the same U.S. law applies here as it applies to all of the states. Well, yes and no. Some states-California notably, have 9 mile zones of state ownership based on prior ownership at time of statehood. Most coastal states have 2 mile zones of state ownership. Guam has a 2 mile zone of responsibility/liability under a territorial act, but not ownership. Guam's situation might actually be worse than ours since they have all the responsibility, but can't claim the benefits. We have 0 mile zone, no liability, no ownership beyond the high water mark, having failed to negotiate this in the Covenant and not having any other federal grant/law apply.)
Mr. Gourley's argument: the CNMI is trying to get the U.S. to give it some of the submerged lands that are part of the U.S. eez. If we have a National Marine Monument, there'll be less for the CNMI to beg from the U.S.
My response. This is not an argument against protecting the natural habitat. It is the politics of control. If it's a good idea to have a protected zone, then it's a good idea whether the U.S. does it or the CNMI does it. And frankly, it's better for the CNMI to have the U.S. pay for it.
From my perspective, this argument (and all of Mr. Gourley's arguments) are based on a desire to keep the ocean open to commercial interests. Mr. Gourley would like the least amount of regulation between him and his clients and the natural world. This would make it easier to TAKE and TAKE and keep TAKING ocean resources.
My guess is that businesses who have little or no respect for the environment would find it easier to abuse the environment under CNMI control than under U.S. control (I say this, given the CNMI's poor performance at regulating any government activity). So Mr. Gourley's wanting the CNMI to have control isn't in the interests of the CNMI, but rather in the interests of the businesses who will then abuse our natural resources.
The CNMI doesn't have the money, the manpower, or the know-how at its ready disposition to take necessary action to protect our marine resources, especially at the remote outpost of our three northernmost islands.
Mr. Gourley's argument: The natural world is a bank and we can tap its resources until it goes bankrupt. It's somehow wrong to deprive us from doing that.
Mr response: We have to protect our environment. We are not depositors into the bank, and we can't keep taking out resources. It (our natural world) will go bankrupt.
We need zones that are completely free from humanity's rapacious appetite. Perhaps another analogy for the National Marine Monument (rather than a bank that won't let anyone withdraw resources) is the DMZ. If we want an end to war, we have to start with peace somewhere. Mr. Gourley would have us fighting with no DMZ, no peace, no place of respite. Our marine life needs a free zone, a respite where it can escape the war against it.
Mr. Gourley argues for on-going "protection" of our marine resources by Wespac and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS). This essentially means no protection.
NMFS has failed to do its job of protecting marine life in Hawaii waters, See Report on NMFS ; in the Atlantic; See Audobon Society sues; in the Gulf of Mexico, See Red Snapper depeletion, and in the Pacific Northwest NMFS fails alongside Oregon agency .
I previously noted an on-going investigation into allegations against Wespac, another federal agency that has demonstrated its willingness to hear only the commercial fishing industry's voice in the discussion on marine species regulation.
There is no good reason for the public to have confidence in either of these agencies when it comes to protecting our precious marine environment. The public record clearly shows that they are more interested in helping commercial fishing interests than in enforcing laws that ensure the vitality of our limited and dwindling marine life.
The National Marine Monument, with the shift to NOAA, promises a much better chance of real environment conservation.
And that's a good thing.
Sunday, April 13, 2008
Friday, April 11, 2008
Reason 1 why I oppose the PEW (It's Pew Charitable Trust, not PEW.) National Monument. It would be a Marine National Monument.
So there are no misunderstandings about my purpose, I must first start out stating that the following comments are my own personal opinions and I am not representing any organizations. Additionally, I am not being paid nor am I receiving any compensation for writing this letter or subsequent letters to the editor on this topic. But you do have a personal financial stake. You operate a business, Micronesian Environment Services, that benefits from open access to limited natural resources. Must be the humidity. The more protections for those resources, the harder it is for you to "help" your clients get access to our precious natural resources .
My opinion on the NMI Marine National Monument (PEW Monument) being proposed by the PEW Foundation is based on my long-term involvement in the marine science and environmental regulatory fields and my personal belief in supporting sustainable fisheries programs.
As background, I was first introduced to the PEW Monument idea during the Mariana Islands Nature Alliance Strategic Planning Session held on Nov. 17, 2007 at Fiesta Resort. Those in attendance were told by PEW that they had already approached White House staff about the NMI Monument and President Bush was ready to sign the Presidential Proclamation as soon as PEW could show support from the CNMI government and residents. PEW was offering to provide operating expenses to MINA in the form of grants in exchange for their active participation in promoting and selling the PEW Monument idea to the people of the CNMI. The MINA Board declined PEW's generous offer.
I attended a second, more formal PEW presentation on March 26, 2008, where the same concept was presented, complete with a PowerPoint show, colorful glossy handouts and various fact sheets providing general information about the northern islands. And finally, I carefully reviewed the PEW letter to Governor Fitial, dated Dec. 20, 2007, that outlined their proposal to create a very large no-take marine protected area in the Northern Mariana Islands EEZ, and an Internet investigation into both the PEW Foundation and the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Marine National Monument (NWHI Monument) controversy. I would like to think that I have done my homework in attempting to fully understand the issues and resulting long term repercussions should President Bush designate over a third of the entire CNMI EEZ (115,000 square miles) as a National Monument.
My wish is to write a series of letters to the editor that will attempt to reveal certain issues that my not be apparent from listening to the polished PEW presentation. My purpose is to provide background information so interested people will be able to ask pertinent questions on issues important to the community. Please remember, the real stakeholders in this environmental political game are the people of the CNMI.
I have serious reservations on all the economic benefits that PEW is touting about the Monument and will address them in later letters. Meanwhile, I hope everyone understands that the PEW Foundation cannot guarantee the CNMI anything. They are simply a Washington DC-based third party expeditor What does this mean? Pew Charitable Trust is based in Philidelphia, PA, not D.C. They are a world-wide CHARITABLE/NON-PROFIT organization. trying to sell the CNMI a product that they themselves will have very little (or nothing) to do with once the Presidential Proclamation has been inked. Who will ultimately pay for the PEW Monument long after the PEW Foundation leaves the CNMI? We will, of course. I believe this is false. The Marine National Monument would be a joint federal and CNMI-managed protected area. The federal government would bear most of the costs. As noted in the letter from Pew Charitable Trust to Governor Fitial: "The economic opportunities created through designation of a large Marianas Trench Marine Monument are real. As the principle federal agency involved, the National Marine Sanctuary Program would undertake a management plan in conjunction with the CNMI government."
With that said, I believe the overall costs (costs are not necessarily limited to money) to the people of the CNMI are too high. Therefore, I completely oppose the PEW NMI Marine National Monument, Mariana Trench Marine Sanctuary, National Park of the Sea, or whatever name PEW is calling it this week. Pew Charitable Trust calls its overall project "Ocean Legacy." The naming of the Marine National Monument in the CNMI would, of course, need NMI input.
Designation of the PEW Monument will permanently ban all commercial, recreational and subsistence fishing activities to U.S. citizens Excuse me-all people, businesses, etc. not just U.S. citizens within Monument boundaries, an area encompassing 115,000 square miles. This will be accomplished by changing the existing resource management structure from that of promoting a sustainable fishery approach to a “no take” approach that prohibits virtually all extractive uses within Monument boundaries. There are reasons to create no-take, protected zones in our oceans. The "existing resource management structure" is, unfortunately, corrupted by the excessive interests of commercial fishing. For example, WESPAC is under investigation for using federal money to lobby state legislatures on behalf of fishing interests. Honolulu Advertiser reports on up-coming GAO investigatin of WESPAC. Even a cursory glance at the recently reported composition of WESPAC's nominated representatives shows a lopsided weighting of community voices on behalf of fishing (commercial, tourist, and gasoline enterprise) interests, with no environmental interests represented. Saipan Tribune 4/15/2008
Based on management measures promulgated by the NWHI Monument, indigenous people will very likely be allowed to fish for sustenance purposes (not to be confused with subsistence fishing which will be outlawed) within Monument waters, provided the (fishing) activity is included as a term or condition on the federal permit that must be first obtained from the National Marine Sanctuary Program (NOAA/NOS), or its regulatory equivalent. Interestingly, Monument regulations require all fish caught in Monument waters to be eaten within the boundaries of the Monument. Oh, and don't forget to turn in your catch report to the Monument management authority on the fish that was eaten!
Presently, marine resources within the federal waters of the CNMI EEZ (0 to 200 miles) are being jointly managed by two federal resource management entities; the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council (Council) and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS). Their approach to resource management is to support sustainable fishing practices in accordance to various federal laws (i.e., Magnuson (Stevens) Fishery Conservation and Management Act, Sustainable Fisheries Act, Endangered Species Act, National Environmental Policy Act, etc.). Both of these governmental entities also promote and embrace active participation in developing appropriate resource management measures from those who know the resources the best-the stakeholders. One might say "mis-managed." As noted above, the only "stakeholders" invited to the WESPAC table are fishing interests, and not the rest of us. Keep reading.
If the PEW Monument becomes a reality, the existing resource management authorities (i.e., the Council and NMFS) would be replaced immediately with another federal management agency within NOAA: the National Marine Sanctuary Program under the National Ocean Service. In contrast to the existing sustainable management approach, a resource management approach of no extractive uses will be implemented by the National Marine Sanctuary Program. This federal action is permanent and commercial, recreational, and subsistence fishing activities in approximately 115,000 square miles of CNMI waters will become a memory. But the fish will not become a memory--they'll be there for our future generations to see, know, study, appreciate.
In response to the above reality, PEW is quick to point out that indigenous islanders would be allowed to fish in Monument waters, just as the native Hawaiians are allowed to fish in the NWHI Monument. While this is a true statement, it is not telling you the whole story.
Regulations for the NWHI Monument (FR Vol. 71, No. 167; pages 51134-51142) require Monument visitors, including indigenous Hawaiians, to first obtain a federal permit that would allow access to NWHI Monument waters. Permitting is getting a license. It's not a serious hurdle. For example, a permit could be issued for the purpose of practicing various traditional or cultural activities in the NWHI Monument.
In order to fish in Monument waters, one must have fishing activities added to the permit as a term or condition (’404.11(h); page 51139). Sustenance fishing will only be authorized if the activity is “incidental to an activity permitted under this part” (’404.3; page 51137). My understanding is that permits will not be issued to those persons that wish to travel to the Monument for the sole purpose of fishing.
If one actually does receive a permit to sustenance fish, the visitor would be required to eat any fish caught in Monument waters within the Monument boundaries (’404.11e (5)). In simplest terms, no marine resources (i.e., fish and other edible marine life) can be taken from the Monument and distributed to family, friends, or community members back on their home island. And, should you be granted permission to actually eat a fish from the Monument, you will likely be required to submit a catch report to the Monument management authority documenting your eating event (see ’404.11(h); page 51140). There are benefits to requiring fishing permits and reports. They create 1) better data for managing fish populations; 2) a means to give a voice to recreational and cultural fishermen, and not just commercial fishing interests; and 3) possible revenues from licensing, and from any taxes on fishing-related activities. Compare: On requiring licensing under the Magnuson Stevens Fishery Management and Conservation Act.
The permanent ban on commercial fishing activities will detrimentally affect the CNMI's newest commercial fishing business venture that has already invested a substantial sum of money in infrastructure development on Rota and bringing two fishing vessels to the CNMI. The Hawaii National Monument allowed existing commercial enterprises a 5 year time-period to continue fishing in the new National Monument waters, as a means of recouping their investments. The same could be done here. Do we really wnt to scuttle a project that protects our ocean's resources for ALL people, just because of ONE commercial fishing venture? Creation of the PEW Monument will seriously inhibit the development of any future sustainable fishing industries as it will decrease the fishable area within the CNMI EEZ by 33 percent. This will not create a hardship on people of the CNMI. Few individuals or families can afford the cost of gasoline and the time it takes to travel to the three northernmost CNMI islands and fish.
So, what does the PEW Foundation really want? Simply put, they want 33 percent of our EEZ to be designated as a no-take National Monument so they can credit their Ocean Legacy Project for creating another large Marine Monument and help President Bush put another notch on his environmental bedpost to bolster his legacy as the ”Ocean President”. Not really. They want to create a National Marine Monument around the CNMI's three northernmost islands so that we can all protect our ocean's resources and have a beautiful place to visit. Working in concert with the President to designate the PEW Monument in the Mariana Islands before he leaves office is not about science-based conservation, but U.S. mainland politics. How could this help President Bush's politics? He has nothing to gain. It just might be the one time he's figured something out right.
Though it may surprise our paid PEW lobbyist, the opposing forces grow larger and stronger every time a presentation is made. PEW cannot fool everyone with their rhetoric and empty promises. They are not trying to fool anyone. They are holding open sessions, inviting comment, and trying to work together to sustain our environment.
What are you, Mr. Gourley, trying to protect?
1. The existing control by WESPAC, with it's hand-in-hand relationship with commercial fishing.
2. A "sustainable fishing" system, rather than a no-take protected environment system. But we're learning that "sustainable" fishing, with its focus on one species of fish at a time, is wrongly weighted in favor of over-taking and over-fishing, while our environment suffers. There is mounting evidence that the WESPAC -Magnuson-Stevens Act focus of species-by-species protection isn't working, and that a larger, global focus on ocean health would be a better approach. No take zones are important and helpful to environmental protection.
3. Your own interests in offering services to help others use or abuse our limited natural resources.
Navy Hill, Saipan
Friday, April 11, 2008
Head on over to UNHEARD NO MORE for some great posts and details about the passage of the U.S. Senate bill (S. 2739) that federalizes immigration in the CNMI.
Then head over to The Daily Kos for the latest on the Jack Abramoff scandal, which again relates to activities "on behalf of" the NMI.