Mayors of Major East and West Coast Ports Express Concern About Possible Economic Harm from Marine Monument Designations
August 24, 2016 (NCFC) – In letters sent on Friday to the President and the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), New Bedford, Massachusetts Mayor Jon Mitchell and Monterey, California Mayor Clyde Roberson expressed “serious concerns” about the potential economic harm to their ports from the use of executive action by the Obama Administration to create new federal marine monuments off the coasts of New England and California. The mayors also emphasized the need for “transparency” and “robust stakeholder input.”
The letters reflect a growing movement from fishermen and fishing communities across the country opposing the creation of marine monuments outside of the existing ocean management processes. New Bedford is the highest-grossing fishing port in the nation, and Monterey is one of the most valuable fishing ports in California.
In his letter to CEQ Acting Director Christy Goldfuss, New Bedford Mayor Mitchell praised the successes of the current fishing-management process, overseen by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) – a process that emphasizes including the voices of all ocean stakeholders in its deliberations.
“The process is far from perfect, but it affords ample opportunity for stakeholders and the public alike to review and comment on policy decisions and for the peer reviewing of the scientific bases of those decisions,” he wrote.
The Mayor went on to contrast this with the much more opaque process that has governed the marine monument debate.
“The use of a parallel process, however well-meaning, which has none of the checks and balances employed in the NOAA process, could leave ocean management decisions vulnerable to political considerations in the long run,” he wrote.
On the other side of the country, Monterey Mayor Roberson’s letter to President Obama was similarly critical of efforts to declare new monuments by executive fiat. Mayor Roberson emphasized the value of the California seamounts to commercial fishermen and the need to strike a balance between environmental protections and fishing concerns. According to Mayor Roberson, reaching this balance requires basing decisions on science, rather than politics.
“[Monterey] supports publically transparent, science-based processes in making ocean management decisions – such as the mandate embodied in the federal Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation Act,” he wrote. “This proposal was developed without public knowledge or participation, much less scientific or economic review and analysis. Certainly there was no transparency. “
Both Mayors also expressed serious reservations about the potential impact monument declarations would have on their regions’ commercial fishing industries. In New England, a monument declaration would devastate the red crab, swordfish, and tuna fisheries, as well as the processors and shoreside businesses that depend on them. In California, the albacore tuna fishery would be deeply impacted, as would that of the rockfish, spiny lobster, sea urchins, and white seabass.
Mayor Mitchell also noted that while the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission has provided “coordinates of a line seaward of the canyons that is acceptable to the industry” the Administration has not provided a concrete proposal. He noted, “if a proposal actually exists, it has not been shared with any of the stakeholders.”
Fishing groups on the East and West Coasts, including many NCFC affiliates, whose members collectively produce the majority of the edible finfish and shellfish harvested from U.S. waters, have expressed opposition to the creation of a new monument via executive order. These organizations include:
Read Mayor Mitchell's letter here
- Alaska Bering Sea Crabbers
- Alaska Scallop Association
- American Albacore Fisheries Association
- American Bluefin Tuna Association (ABTA)
- American Scallop Association
- At-Sea Processors Association
- Atlantic Offshore Lobstermen’s Association
- Blue Water Fishermen’s Association
- California Fisheries and Seafood Institute
- California Lobster & Trap Fishermen’s Association
- California Sea Urchin Commission
- California Wetfish Producers Association
- Coalition of Coastal Fisheries
- Coos Bay Trawlers
- Directed Sustainable Fisheries
- Fisheries Survival Fund
- Garden State Seafood Association
- Golden King Crab Coalition
- Groundfish Forum
- Long Island Commercial Fishing Association
- Midwater Trawlers Cooperative
- National Fisheries Institute
- New England Red Crab Harvester’s Association
- North Carolina Fisheries Association
- Oregon Trawl Commission
- Organized Fishermen of Florida
- Pacific Seafood Processors Association
- Pacific Whiting Conservation Cooperative
- Southeastern Fisheries Association
- United Catcher Boats
- Ventura County Commercial Fishermen’s Association
- Washington Trollers Association
- West Coast Seafood Processors Association
- Western Fishboat Owners Association
Read Mayor Roberson's letter here
About the NCFC
The National Coalition for Fishing Communities provides a national voice and a consistent, reliable presence for fisheries in the nation’s capital and in national media. Comprised of fishing organizations, associations, and businesses from around the country, the NCFC helps ensure sound fisheries policies by integrating community needs with conservation values, leading with the best science, and connecting coalition members to issues and events of importance.