Rep. Rob Bishop slams Pres. Obama’s decision to expand by hundreds of thousands of square miles a marine national monument in the Pacific, a move local Hawaiian and Samoan critics say will damage the area’s already vulnerable fishing economy.
“The sweeping size of this expansion is unjustified,” said committee Chairman Rob Bishop of Utah. “It will impose great harm to a critical local industry.”
The president expanded the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument by 442,781 square miles on Friday, one day after the 100th birthday of the National Park Service. Bishop called it an abuse of the Antiquities Act by barring native Hawaiians from providing “meaningful input.” He said the president’s “legacy may be intact,” but it comes at “the expense of local fisheries, cultural traditions and state rights.”
He was joined in blasting the president’s decision by Rep. Aumua Amata, R-American Samoa, who said Obama’s continued designation of national monuments without consulting local governments and industry “is irresponsible.” It places American Samoa, which “is already the most economically challenged state or territory in the U.S., at even greater risk,” the congresswoman said.
“Our local fishing industry, which comprises more than 80 percent of the local economy, depends heavily on access to these waters,” she said. The monument’s expansion would restrict fishing in the region.
Numerous industries from long-line fishermen to restaurant chefs have protested the federal government’s expansion of the monument because of the increased restrictions it places on local fisheries.