President’s plan for world’s largest marine preserve draws fire

Published On: Jun 17 2014 06:11:11 PM HST   Updated On: Jun 17 2014 06:29:28 PM HST

President Barack Obama announced his plan to protect pristine waters of the Pacific at an Oceans conference.

Click here to watch Catherine Cruz's story.

Expanding the marine preserve out Western would mean including areas around the deepest point of the ocean, the Marianas Trench, near the island of Guam.

But it would also push into areas where Hawaii's long liners and other U.S. fishermen fish

near Johnston atoll, Palmyra Island as well as Jarvis and Holland.


"It has no conservation benefit other than to penalize.U.S, fishermen,” said Paul Dalzelle, senior scientist for the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council.

Scientists of the council met in Honolulu Tuesday.

It was a prelude to next week's  full council meeting which will include members  from Guam and Samoa.

It is expected to take a strong position against the marine preserve plan.

Members argue that expanding the no-fishing zone is not only bad for businesss, but will not help tuna and sharks that migrate.

"There are already 50 nautical-mile closures around those areas. It’s called part of the marine national monument. They are already protecting the coral reefs, all the near shore fish, precious corals, coral reef fish and sharks pushing out to the 200 nautical miles. It will have no major conservation benefit,"  said Dalzelle.

The council believes the move could also leave much of the protected areas open to fishing from foreign fishers who are already banned from U.S. waters.

Fewer U.S. fishermen in the area, means fewer eyes on the water.


 "They can let the government know they have seen boats making encroachments and if you take those away what’s to stop foreigners from fishing," said Dalzelle.

The concern is for the areas around the nation of Kiribas, which permits European fishers to troll in their waters.

"I suspect there will be a great temptation to just pop into our area, because they know they will be no fishing vessels be there to see them if they do that," said Dalzelle.

The proposal could go into effect as soon as this year after a comment period, which has the U.S. fishers worried.

Dalzell said the move shows the political vunerability of the region, with only the Hawaii congressional delegation and two non-voting delegates to congress representing Guam and Samoa.




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