Obama Creates 5000 sq Mile Marine Monument in three Submarine Canyons on Georges Bank
President Obama announced the creation of the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument, a 5,000 square mile area of protected waters southeast of Cape Cod on the Georges Bank. This is the first Marine Protected Area in the Atlantic. The monument will include three submarine canyons, Oceanographer, Gilbert, and Lydonia. These canyons are used by the offshore lobster fishery, and the deep-sea red crab fishery, which will now no longer be open to fishing. White House officials emphasized the reduced size of the area of the national monument as a balance between conservation and creating a “sustainable environment for the fishing industry going forward.” Still, the designation was conducted without scientific review as is permitted under the Antiquities Act.
John Sackton comments on the George Bank MPA announcement suggesting that while such designations might be victories for NGOs in the short-term, they could ultimately backfire in years to come. "NGOs are winning the battle on creating no-take marine monuments. But to do this, they have to deny the validity of the scientific and public review that has led to the dramatic changes in global fisheries sustainability over the past twenty years," writes Sackton. "The NGO's, by failing to recognize the strong advancement of protections already in place, may end up weakening these protections in a future of warmer waters and fisheries crisis. That will be precisely when we may need them the most."
In other news, a letter co-authored by over 200 members of the House of Representatives showed strong support to repeal the USDA’s catfish inspection program if a vote can be brought to the floor. “This program has no place in our government and only serves to add to our national debt. It fragments our food safety system by making catfish the only type of fish under USDA inspection; the FDA should be inspecting catfish, just as it inspects all other fish," said California Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard. "I hope that House leaders will schedule S.J. Res 28 for rapid consideration, as more than 200 members of Congress are now demanding.”
Meanwhile, Joseph Robertson of Aberdeen will be the UK’s first seafood supplier to participate in Sustainable Fishery Partnership's (SFP) Ocean Disclosure Project. Ocean Disclosure is SFP's attempt to have companies link their purchasing species/areas to SFP's own scoring system, that gives even MSC certified fisheries various rankings from A to C.
Finally, Vietnam's seafood exporters are planning to sue the US Department of Commerce for raising shrimp duty rates sharply higher in its tenth final review assessment. Exporters country-wide were assessed higher shrimp rates after Vietnam's top shrimp exporter Minh Phu was removed as a respondent in the review as part of a WTO agreement between the US and Vietnam.
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