In perhaps a stretching of the Antiquities Act of 1906, former president Barack Obama used the bill to set aside millions of square miles of ocean off the United States’ coasts.
Now, with a Republican president and a GOP-laden Congress, gears are churning to reopen previously crucial commercial fishing grounds.
Speaking Wednesday morning in regards to the repurposing of Obama’s monument designations, Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska) said, “I don’t believe the Antiquities Act should have ever been applied to oceans. There was never intent of that.”
Republicans sitting on the House Committee on Natural Resources have attempted to convey the stresses of fishermen in need of these waters, even more so as the Antiquities Act was issued without heeding the necessary discretion of local fishing industries.
At the least, a GOP majority should give Republicans leeway to dial back regulations pinning down local fisheries.
Democratic New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell was outwardly against the designations of monuments in his local areas. Zoning of the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument in September has already stagnated local red crab and lobster businesses dependent on the area.
“Such an outcome is cause for deep concern no matter one’s position in the current policy debates,” Mitchell said.
Stating the purpose of the Antiquities Act, some groups have gone as far as saying Obama’s oceanic uses of the bill were never legal. The Pacific Legal Foundation (PLF) has already delegated a lawsuit in an attempt to negate the fishing restrictions caused by Obama’s placement of monuments.
Citing the bill’s own words, the PLF says the act is strictly meant for “lands owned or controlled” by the federal government, and the law may be “confined to the smallest area.”
“President Obama set this entire area off-limits to most fishing immediately, with what remains of fishing opportunities to be phased out over the next few years,” said Jonathan Wood, a PLF attorney.
The Foundation argues that despite 40 years of fishing on the Northeast’s Atlantic coasts, commercial fishing has not contributed to any irreconcilable harm to water’s ecosystem.
“This illegal, unilateral, presidential action threatens economic distress for individuals and families who make their living through fishing and for New England communities that rely on a vibrant fishing industry,” Wood said.
H/T: The Daily Caller
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