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Imported seafood floods local markets due to fishing restrictions in US Pacific



 By Pacific Island Times News Staff

 

 Fishermen in the U.S. Pacific islands are shortchanged in the face of growing federal restrictions that shrink the U.S. exclusive economic zone while

unregulated foreign fishing surges, according to the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council.

 

The Biden administration’s target to conserve 30 percent of the ocean by 2030 entails closures of fishing areas in the U.S. Pacific.

 

In April last year, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration commenced the designation process for the proposed expansion of the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument.

 

The proposed designation would include the marine areas within the existing sanctuary in the Pacific Remote Island Areas, as well as the currently unprotected submerged lands and waters, covering an area of about 770,000 square miles.

 

According to the NOAA, commercial and recreational fishing in Guam, American Samoa, Hawaii, the Northern Marianas and other islands contributes nearly $1 billion in sales and 10,000 jobs to the U.S. economy. The agency reported that commercial fishermen landed more than 36 million pounds of finfish and shellfish in 2015.


“U.S. fishermen face tough competition from less regulated high seas fisheries, which may have lower standards for human rights and seafood safety,” the council stated in its newsletter. “As a result, imported seafood is becoming more prevalent in local markets, overshadowing fresh, domestic options.”


Other measures such as the Shark Finning Prohibition Act and Billfish Conservation Act, while implemented with good intentions, “inadvertently impact U.S. fisheries in the region,” the council said.

 

During earlier meetings this year, the council said Pacific island tuna fishery representatives expressed concerns over the “heavily subsidized foreign fisheries ‘dumping’ cheaper products into the U.S. market.”

 

The council will meet in Honolulu from June 24 to 26 to discuss seafood

trade and strategies to level the playing field between foreign and domestic fisheries in the marketplace.

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There are four marine national monuments within the Pacific islands region: the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, which was established in June 2006, the Marianas Trench, Pacific Remote Islands, and Rose Atoll Marine National Monuments, which were established in January 2009 and expanded in 2016.


'The establishment of the Monuments provides the opportunity to protect areas of outstanding resource biodiversity and scientific, cultural, and aesthetic value, and provide for the long-term persistence of these natural and cultural legacies," NOAA said on its website.


"By designating these areas of the Pacific Ocean as marine national monuments, the United States ensures that the marine environments receive the highest level of environmental recognition and conservation," the agency added.




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