An ongoing campaign led by large, well-funded environmental organizations is urging President Obama to use the 1906 Antiquities Act to designate parts of the Atlantic Ocean—such as Cashes Ledge in the Gulf of Maine and the New England Canyons and Seamounts—as marine National Monuments. In September, I had the privilege of testifying before House Natural Resources Committee Subcommittee on Water, Power and Oceans about the aspect of this proposal that seeks to exclude historic fisheries from the designated area.
The Antiquities Act, originally enacted to give Teddy Roosevelt authority to protect vulnerable Native American archeological sites, allows the president to act quickly, unilaterally, and without Congressional oversight to preserve sites in danger of destruction. The act, while undoubtedly created in good faith, has been misused in the case of marine monuments to a frightening extent.
In my case, the red crab fishing business I’ve been operating for twenty years is active in some of the areas under the proposal. Not only has our fishery complied with every regulation, but we have expended significant resources and time to ensure the health of the resource we fish. We were the first U.S. Atlantic Coast fishery certified as sustainable by the Marine Stewardship Council, demonstrating we have minimal impact on the health of the species and its environment. Additionally, we are listed as “Ocean-Friendly” by the New England Aquarium Seafood Guide program.
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