Sens. Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse have asked President Obama to share details about his plans to designate areas off the New England coast as a marine national monument.
Fishermen are counting on these lawmakers to get those details. They fear that, with a stroke of the president’s pen, they’ll get kicked out of areas they’ve been fishing for decades.
David Borden, executive director of the Atlantic Offshore Lobstermen’s Association, said the proposed areas off the Coast of Cape Cod support a multimillion dollar fishing industry that employs hundreds, if not thousands, of people.
“If this proposal were limited to a prohibition on oil and gas and mineral extraction, then you never would have had the opposition that surfaced,” said Borden.
State lawmakers wrote it’s hard to fully evaluate the benefits of such a proposal without details. They’re urging the Obama Administration to engage stakeholders in a more extensive process.
Ciaran Clayton, a spokeswoman for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said no official proposal is on the table yet. She said federal officials want to protect these unique habitats from future threats, “but also recognize the importance of ocean-based economies and communities that rely on fishing and tourism and other types of economic drivers.”
Clayton said the federal government is committed to transparency and noted the town hall meeting was the first step in seeking ideas from stakeholders.
Designating national monuments through the Antiquities Act does not require a public process.
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