On June 5th, President Donald Trump signed an Executive Order that restored 5000 square miles of the Atlantic Ocean to sustainable fishing and science-based fishery management.
Former President Barrack Obama arbitrarily closed large areas of the ocean to fishing and fishery management. Former President George W. Bush also closed the largest “marine protected area” off Hawaii and also used the Antiquities Act to strip fishery managers of their legal authority to make decisions about when, where and why areas should be closed to fishing.
Trump’s Executive order does not change any designation of the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts National Monuments or any protections, it simply lifted the “permanent” ban on commercial fishing in those monuments. Rare species, marine mammals and sea turtles continue to enjoy protection under the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the Marine Mammal Act, and a fortress of federal legislation that protects our oceans.
This action is consistent with Trump’s stated policy of ending and reversing decades of double-deals and job-crippling regulations.
With a pen-stroke, President Obama declared these National Monuments to No Fishing. He bowed to anti-fishing nonprofits (the ones who raise money by advocating total bans on fishing to “protect” the sea creatures they have seen only in cartoons.)
Presidents can decree no-fishing zones under the Antiquities Act and skip over the chore of consulting with anybody affected by the fishing regulation. It's a bad idea because there is no buy-in from fishermen who use the area and can be undone with another pen-stroke. There is a public process, established by Congress, to make fishing regulations called "Fishery Management Councils" -- but that takes time and effort.
Fishing closures by area, by season and gear type are all traditional and useful tools in the federal fishery management system. Sometimes it’s necessary to close spawning grounds, or protect an area seasonally to save the seed corn for future fish harvest.
The fad of creating areas of the ocean that are closed permanently to all fishing disrupts the ability of fish managers to be flexible and use the best available science to ensure the protection of all marine species.
Goofy grifters run amok in California. Under the direction of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, he closed up to 40% of the prime fishing grounds used by recreational anglers.
Imagine losing your most productive fishing grounds to a raffle fundraiser for groups that hate fishing.
That's why it's good news that the Trump Administration restored the management of fisheries in these National Monuments to the Fishery Management Councils. It might give pause to future Presidents seeking to polish their legacies in the waning months of their terms.
If the promoters for no-fishing zones want to pursue it under the Magnuson Stevens Act, they can make their case that "we had to close fishing to save fishing" at the next Council meeting.
Some people were upset:
“In another step to reduce environmental regulations, Trump allows commercial fishing in nation’s only marine monument in the Atlantic” - By David Abel Globe Staff, Updated June 5, 2020
"Trump to reopen Northeast Canyons and Seamounts National Monument for fishing"
By Rachel Frazen - 06/05/20
Under the last administration, nearly 5,000 miles of fishing water off the coast of New England were closed to U.S. commercial fishermen without justification. pic.twitter.com/EMTejLdBSO— The White House (@WhiteHouse) June 5, 2020