Amata Welcomes Administration Response That PRIMNM Will Not Be Expanded
Congresswoman’s Letter to Fishery Service Objects to Proposed Fleet Restrictions
News Release from Rep Aumua Amata, R-AS, Oct 4, 2022
Washington, D.C. – Congresswoman Uifa’atali Amata is welcoming a response from the Biden Administration stating that the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument (PRIMNM) will not be expanded. In a response letter to the Congresswoman’s earlier inquiry, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) Director Martha Williams said the administration is not considering an expansion to PRIMNM.
Director Williams said the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), part of the Department of Commerce, and the FWS, part of the Department of the Interior, are co-leads in preparing the Monument Management Plan (MMP) for the PRIMNM.
“As part of this ongoing MMP effort, FWS is not considering additional or potential expansion of the PRIMNM beyond what has already been implemented by Presidential Proclamations 8336 and 9173,” states the FWS reply.
Those presidential proclamations created PRIMNM then tripled it in size, placing over 495,000 square miles of the Pacific off limits. In her June letter to President Biden, Amata urged the administration to seek thorough local input and advice from Pacific territories, saying that American Samoa, as it is thousands of miles from Washington, D.C., “is as rural a community can be in the United States and is traditionally built around a fishing-based culture,” before noting that PRIMNM “removed fishing operations from a U.S. EEZ area that was once the size of California and is now four times that!”
Amata’s Letter to NOAA Fisheries
In other fishing news, on Wednesday, Congresswoman Aumua Amata also wrote the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), also known as NOAA Fisheries, to oppose a proposed rule, in support of Gov. Lemanu P.S. Mauga’s concerns that the rule could result in new restrictions for the U.S. fleet. [Proposed Rule and Request for Comments for “International Fisheries; Western and Central Pacific Fisheries for Highly Migratory Species; Fishing Restrictions in Purse Seine Fisheries and 2022 Longline Bigeye Catch Limit”; 87 FR 55768 (NOAA-NMFS-2022-0082; September 12, 2022) (“Proposed Rule”).]
The Governor’s September 22 letter clarifies American Samoa’s concern: “Knowing that this rule will separate U.S. EEZ days from WCPFC high seas days, and that that separation will likely result in closing the high seas where American Samoa’s US flag purse seiners operate, thereby reducing the tuna supply to our economy, I cannot support this action being proposed by NOAA,” he said.
Amata’s letter emphasizes, “As a representative of a district which is heavily reliant on fishing, I believe this rule would have a negative impact not only on the territory of American Samoa and our own economic stability, but on the rest of the United States fishing industry. I am concerned that NMFS’s proposal will contribute to the economic distress currently faced by my district due to the ongoing decline of our purse-seine fleet.”
She notes, “The rule is unnecessary for compliance with the United State obligations under the WCPFC and hinders the negotiating position of the U.S. industry in critical international access. Furthermore, it is frankly not supported by any scientific reasoning nor does it further any goals of environmental protection or fish stock conservation.”
She agreed with the concerns about the rule expressed by Governor Lemanu, as well as the American Tunaboat Association. “This proposed rule as written is not good for American Samoa and for American fisherman,” she concluded.