Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Manamko’ reject monument bid

Thursday, 23 October 2008 00:00 By Emmanuel T. Erediano - Variety News Staff

THE Manamko’ Council is opposed to the marine proposal and backs Gov. Benigno R. Fitial’s position on the issue.

The governor, the Legislature and the CNMI’s mayors are opposed to the proposal.

In a resolution adopted on Monday, the senior citizens said the proposal “might neither be based on the scientific method nor on the traditional sustainable use approach of conserving natural resources practiced by Pacific islanders.”

The council gave James Connaughton, chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, a copy of the resolution when he and other White House officials met with the senior citizens on Tuesday.

The resolution was signed by the council’s officers, including chairman Francisco Reyes and vice chairwoman Carmen O. Taitano.

They said they are concerned about a permanent federal prohibition, additional resource-use restrictions, a complete ban on commercial and recreational fishing within the proposed monument waters and a complete ban on all forms of oil, gas and mineral extraction activities in the area.

John Gourley, who resigned from the Mariana Islands Nature Alliance due to his opposition to the monument proposal, believes the White House is intent to implement it.

Gourley said the visiting federal officials want to pursue a framework for creating a monument despite the opposition of the CNMI government and traditional fishermen.

He added that local lawmakers are aware of the “tactics” of monument proponents. He did not elaborate.

Gourley said he hopes that the CNMI people will continue to express their concern about the proposal.

“They cannot just sit at the backg round and do nothing. They must get involved or stand to lose a significant portion of their [exclusive economic zone],” he said.

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