WEDNESDAY, 07 JANUARY 2009 22:53
BY MAR-VIC CAGURANGAN | VARIETY NEWS STAFF
Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo vowed yesterday to work with her colleagues in the Committee on Natural Resources to ensure that all stakeholders are consulted on the development of a management plan for the three new national marine monuments that President Bush officially designated on Tuesday.
Bush proclaimed the Marianas Trench and the waters and corals surrounding three uninhabited islands in the CNMI, Rose Atoll in American Samoa and seven islands strung along the equator in the central Pacific Ocean as sanctuaries protected under the 1906 Antiquities Act.
"While the portion of the new monument in the waters near Guam is confined to submerged features and is less restrictive than originally proposed, I remain concerned about the effect of this monument designation on local sovereignty," Bordallo said in a press statement.
The president's directive allows the government to immediately phase out waste dumping, as well as commercial fishing and other extractive uses.
However, recreational fishing, tourism and scientific research with a federal permit could still be allowed within the marine sanctuaries that Bush described as "three beautiful and biologically diverse areas of the Pacific Ocean."
Prohibited activities would not apply to military activities and exercises.
Bordallo expressed disappointment that Bush made the decision without acknowledging the input from local communities.
"I recognize that his intent is to protect our natural resources and our ocean ecosystem while also attempting to address the concerns of our fishermen on Guam, but I do not believe that this process was as inclusive and consultative as we would have preferred," she said.
"The Mariana Trench is an extraordinarily geologically rich resource and a special area of our ocean for undersea life that can best be protected going forward with increased consultation and cooperation between federal and local authorities," the congresswoman added.
Bordallo said she looks forward to "increased consultation" on the development of a management plan under the administration of President-elect Barack Obama who will officially take the helm of the White House on Jan 20.
Bush directs the secretaries of the Interior and Commerce to prepare management plans within their respective authorities and "promulgate implementing regulations that address any further specific actions necessary for the proper care and management of the objects identified" in the proclamation.
The national monuments capped off an eight-year comprehensive ocean conservation strategy, which is touted to be Bush's "Blue Legacy."
According to the proclamation, the monument management plans would include programs to address "traditional access by indigenous persons….for culturally significant subsistence, cultural and religious uses within the monument."
It will also include a program to assess and promote monument-related scientific exploration and research, tourism, as well as recreational and economic activities and opportunities in the CNMI.