Monday, 27 October 2008 00:00 by Therese Hart | Variety News Staff
Today is the last day to submit written testimony in opposition to President George W. Bush's plan to designate and develop several Pacific atolls and reefs as marine sanctuaries which includes the Marianas Trench.
The president's executive order has local residents taking a stand against the proposal and teaming up with the CNMI government, which also opposes the order.
Congresswoman Madeleine Z. Bordallo said that she was against the order. Last week, Bordallo met with members of the Guam Fisherman's Co-Op and its president Manny Duenas who will be submitting 300-500 petitions today to the congresswoman's office, which she will transmit to Washington.
Local fishermen stressed that they are not responsible for over-fishing in regional surrounding waters and should not be penalized for the acts in other jurisdictions that use gear and practices that do not support sustainable use or responsible conservation and management of fishing practices.
"The president cannot say that the marine life in our region is in danger because we are overfishing, because we aren't," Kenneth Quenga, a fisherman from Yona said. Quenga said that if this were the case, then President Bush should establish marine protected areas.
The Bush executive order recognizes the views of territorial governments, local governments and interested parties which have all demonstrated strong opposition to any form of arbitrary Presidential designation, according to a statement from the Guam Fisherman's Co-Op.
An April 30 letter states that "the White House will not consider any proposed project that hints of controversy."
Not the cause
According to the Marianas Fishing Community, fishermen are not the cause of the degradation of high seas fish stocks or the destruction of critical marine habitat. Fishermen have historically--nearly 4,000 years--proven to be excellent stewards of the ocean whereby the harvest is primarily consumed by the community.
Moreover, fishermen continue to provide sustenance to residents of their islands without the need to implement industrialized harvesting methods and should be allowed to continue to fish in the waters of the Marianas with traditional or modern effective fisheries management tools, according to MFC.
Members of the fishing community also stated that they support the existing management established by the U.S. Congress under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act.
The community also recognizes that the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council for several decades has banned the use of the trawl nets, gill nets and most recently purse seine.
The WPRFMC also established large closed areas whereby larger (50') scale fishing vessels are prohibited from entering, thus protecting seamounts from industrial resource extraction to include anchoring which adversely impacts the marine habitat.
Sen. Judi Guthertz has already submitted her testimony, stating that it would be unethical and imperialistic for the U.S. to place Guam's waters under a conservation regime without the approval of the people it is entrusted with.
"The United States should be in the process of transferring authority and governance to the people of Guam, not taking authority away from the local government," Guthertz said.
Guthertz said that if Bush wanted to leave a legacy, he should have taken steps to further the development of self-determination and self-government for Guam.
"He has done absolutely nothing for the past eight years. Just looking at a map in an office inside the beltway and dreaming of a 'blue Legacy' is a ridiculous exercise in imperialism," Guthertz said.