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Sam Pfeifle

Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument: Open for Business

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The big news during President Trump's visit to Maine last week:

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“We are reopening the Northeast Canyons to commercial fishing,” Trump told a roundtable meeting with fishing industry representatives and Maine officials. “We’re opening it today.”

As you might expect, there were some ... opposing voices:

 

 

Will this be a bounty for crabbers and lobstermen? Anybody headed there any time soon? You think it actually ever opens for business? 

 

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Jes Hathaway has the latest details here in National Fisherman:

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Some press coverage and public responses to the news indicated that the policy reversal would blow the area wide open to unregulated commercial fishing, leading to destruction of long-protected habitat.

“This is not true at all,” said Tom Nies, the council’s executive director. “The monument area will not be ‘wide open to industrial fishing.’”

 

 

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Here's another perspective on the monument opening: It's bad for commercial fishing, actually

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That statement would claim that opening the almost 5,000 square miles of Atlantic Ocean to commercial fishing would benefit the fishing industry and, if managed properly, would ensure that the area’s landscapes, fragile ecosystems, and rare and endangered species remain protected.

These claims are, in fact, false, some scientists say: Opening this monument to commercial fishing hurts fishermen — and the effective way to manage the marine monument is to halt commercial fishing.

“Opening a monument to fishing removes everything the monument is supposed to be. It leaves the monument in name,” said Dr. Enric Sala, National Geographic explorer-in-residence and founder of the National Geographic Pristine Seas program, who has helped create marine monuments. Additionally, he noted the presence of a marine reserve benefits fishermen as part of a balanced ecological and economic system.

 

 

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The Hill finds that the lobstermen of Stonington, Maine, aren't exactly psyched to head 100 miles southeast: 

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Lobstermen argue that if Trump wanted to help the industry, he would have focused on loosening protections for the North Atlantic right whale that restrict the amount of line used for lobster traps in order to reduce deadly entanglements.

The topic was discussed during Trump’s visit, but only briefly.

“I just want to, as a lobsterman, bring up something that I would be run out of town if I didn’t bring up to you,” Kristan Porter, president of the Maine Lobstermen’s Association, said at the roundtable. “We find our industry at risk of being shut down because of the endangered right whale.”

Trump pledged to consider easing the regulations so long as they could still protect the whales, which he at one point referred to as the “white whale.” No announcements have been made by the administration since then.

 

 

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