Among all the others items on the agenda, and there were many, today was the hearing date on the new Monuments and what is going to happen as seen by WESTPAC's Counsel Members.
With respect to the Marianas Trench Monument, US Fish and Wildlife will take the lead with drafting the Monument Management Plan (NEPA scoping to start this June)(will be the most important document), but NOAA and WESTPAC will be involved as they are charged with the fishery management part of the situation (recreational sustenance cultural fishing regulations and definitions). Small political exchanges/maneuvering between the various Counsel members representing different interests. Will need to watch exactly how this goes.
WESTPAC staff were instructed to draft "draft" regulations and a letter to our new President asking that the proclamations creating the new Monuments be changed to allow co-management in all three for Amer Samoa, CNMI and Guam.
My presentation basically stressed the Friends of the Monument history and desires, I also mentioned the bad political situation going forward for the supporters of the Monument in the CNMI as two WESTPAC Counsel members were/are openly against the creation of the Monument (as well as the fact that are local government only supported the Monument when it appeared that it was going to be created no matter what they did). So, I suggested there could be a conflict with these members...maybe they shouldn't vote on the Trench stuff. Threw in a little criticism of WSTPAC in general and the place went silent for a few moments. But nothing seems to really phase this body.
So, tried to turn back to the positive and suggested Fish and Wildlife seek input from NGO's in Saipan to gain a real appreciation of what the citizens and residents of the CNMI really want to have happen now that the Monument has been created. Still it became very clear during a later question and answer and comment period that our two representatives on the counsel are pushing the old agenda items like: having who ever the governor name as advisory counsel members being recognized as government officials; recreational/sustenance and traditional fishing definitions to mean whatever they want it to mean; and if, and as soon as, the CNMI Govt gets its 3 Mile Coastal Zone - it be opened for fishing or whatever else they want. Not good, but nothing new.
Long day, but the overall positions of the Friends of the Monument were made known and a few people were appreciative of our bringing forward and public our position on the Monument.
See you soon,
Sorry I'll miss this Friday's get-together.
Thursday, March 26, 2009
Friend of the Monument's Wes Bodgan traveled to American Samoa to testify at the Wespac meeting there this week. Posted below is his report to the group.