The state Department of Land and Natural Resources has sent a letter to President Donald Trump opposing a request by a regional fishery council to allow commercial fishing in the Papahanaumokuakea and Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monuments.
The Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council (Wespac) sent a letter to Trump on May 8 in response to Trump’s executive order promoting American seafood competitiveness and economic growth.
In the letter signed by council chairman Archie Taotasi Soliai and Wespac executive director Kitty Simonds, the council asked the president to “please consider lifting the fishing restrictions in the Pacific marine national monuments and allowing America’s fishermen to fish again in the US EEZ (exclusive economic zone)….”
Though Hawaii, represented by the state Department of Land and Natural Resources, is a member of Wespac, DLNR officials said the council did not consult with the state and disagrees with Wespac’s request to remove conservation protections at the monuments.
In a letter sent this week to Trump, Suzanne Case, chairwoman of the Department of Land and Natural Resources, said, “The letter was written and transmitted without prior discussion or consent of the Council members, and I am writing to convey that the State of Hawaii does not agree with the letter’s assertions regarding fishing restrictions in the Papahanaumokuakea and Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monuments.
Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument was declared a monument by President George Bush in 2006. A decade later, President Barack Obama expanded the monument, creating the world’s largest marine reserve and protecting coral reefs and marine habitats from mineral mining and commercial fishing activities.
In the letter to Trump, Case, who also serves as the chairwoman of the fishery council’s Hawaii Archipelago and Pacific Remote Islands Area Ecosystems Standing Committee, attested fishing restrictions for the monuments “are a key component of the proper care and management” of thousands of protected species.
“Both areas protect unique marine ecosystems that safeguard thousands of species, many of which are found nowhere else on Earth,” she added.