Obama brings fresh attention to an expanded marine sanctuary (and the fishermen it hurts)

Obama-visits-atollYesterday, while visiting Hawaii’s Midway Atoll, President #Obama officially made the size of a marine monument twice the size of Texas while highlighting his #Climate Change commitment. The monument’s new size has angered local fishermen and Native Hawaiians. The sanctuary, created by President George W. Bush in 2006, puts more land and waters off limits to local fishermen and recreation, and Obama’s critics are calling his actions heavy-handed. The monument is now the largest protected marine #Environment in the world or roughly 3.5 times the size of California.

A native of Hawaii, Obama used his executive power to expand the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, making large swaths of fertile fishing grounds off-limits to fishermen. That means they now have to travel at least four times further out to sea to catch fish like tuna, a costly adventure that actually emits more greenhouse gas emissions because of the increased travel time. Hawaiians not only consume three times more fish than landlocked Americans but fishing is a major source of local commerce.

Onerous restrictions equal fewer jobs

While environmentalists say the new size was essential to Native Hawaiians by making it off-limits to fishing and recreational activities, residents say they can’t afford the increased costs associated with the new restrictions. Especially smaller fishermen who barely eke out a living. The new size, they say, would infringe on traditions that Hawaiians have relied on for centuries and would be counterproductive to Hawaii‘s sustainable fishing practices:

The White House said that the region would suffer a six percent loss in fishing productivity, while others say it’s closer to ten percent of Hawaii’s annual haul. But whether the figure is six or 60, Obama will be long gone from office as the impacts of his decisions resonate throughout the fishing community. That isn’t sitting well with House Natural Resource Committee Chair Rob Bishop (R) of Utah.

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