In an op-ed, Rep. Rob Bishop says Pres. Obama’s recent and forthcoming spate of marine national monument designations off the coasts of Hawaii, California, and Massachusetts will make radical environmentalists happy but punish American fishing industries already struggling to compete against the illegal practices of foreign fleets.
Two more marine monuments are expected soon, one on the West Coast, off the coast of Monterey, and another on the East Coast, off the coast of Cape Cod. Much like the expansion in Hawaii, these considerations have been met with staunch opposition from locals, the industry, and elected officials.
The mayors of New Bedford, Massachusetts and Monterey, California recently spoke out against proposals. Their opposition centered around the lack of transparency and public involvement in Antiquities Act designations, as well as the significant economic damage that would be sure to follow if these historic fishing areas are deemed off limits to fishermen.
When I visited New Bedford, Massachusetts, the highest-grossing commercial fishing port in the U.S., earlier this summer, we held a roundtable with local industry leaders whose concerns have been tossed aside by the Obama Administration. They tried to work on a compromise to protect essential habitat while also protecting one of our Nation’s oldest fishing ports, but their efforts have been ignored.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s 2015-2020 dietary guidelines for Americans put a premium on seafood consumption, advising seafood consumption twice weekly. Yet at the same time, this Administration is pushing for these two marine monuments, which will make it more difficult for Americans to purchase affordable, domestic seafood. They will decimate U.S. seafood production and jobs, which will in turn create dependency on foreign food sources—forget buying local.
The hypocrisy goes further. Last year, commercial fishing vessels operating primarily in the South China Sea sparked public outcry for supporting illegal fishing practices. These horror stories on the high seas prompted the Obama Administration to issue an Executive Order creating a seafood traceability program. While the intent of this program was good, it put an undue burden on domestic importers, retailers and restaurants to combat ill practices of other nations that are entirely out of their control.
Our domestic fishing fleets are widely recognized as some of the most sustainable and responsible in the world. Yet instead of combatting illegal practices by foreign fleets, this Administration is teaming up with environmental groups on a crusade to kill American jobs by locking up traditional fishing grounds from the Atlantic to the West Pacific.