Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Marine Monument - Lets Talk eh!

Finally! John wants to hear about the monument! He's been so busy raising his objections at all the presentations that he hasn't actually paid attention to what has been said! Such is usually the case when you’re so narrowly focused. Anyway, maybe there's hope for an open and honest dialogue after all! Now if we could only get him to stop blowing things so far out of proportion. I quote "They {Pew people} proclaim that their preservationist approach to resource management is the only way to save the world".

Really John, is that what we {supporters of the monument concept} are saying?

I like to look at the marine protected area more like an asset an investment banker may use when planning for retirement. We all know that despite gazillions of economic studies the only way to really be sure your investments will be secure over the long haul is to diversify and make regular contributions (dollar cost averaging). You don't put all your eggs in one basket as they say. Listening to only one market segment or belief system (such as tech stocks for example) does little to hedge your bets on the future. Guess wrong and you could be on the short end of the money train.

The same can be said in the fisheries debate. Despite many advances in research abilities the fact remains our oceans are too vast and complex for anyone to really understand all the relationships and what actually goes on down there on a global basis. Whether they believe in sustainable extraction or replenishing preservation no marine scientist will tell you they know enough to make bold predictions about what the resources will definitely look like generations from now. If they do they're feeding you a crock.

So back to the analogy. We could take the waters around our 15 islands (the asset) and invest entirely in the fisheries based line of thinking (WESPAC) as we do now or we could take a portion of it and diversify by putting some eggs (islands) into another basket. By having 1/3 of our EEZ as you like to refer to it under "protectionist" control and 2/3 under "selective extraction" control we are now hedged against an utter collapse of either system. Intuitively it might seem much more likely that a human regulated extraction system may be at greater risk of failure than say one in which mother nature is left to her own devices (as in the case of the monument) but, I digress.

In bringing John's over statement down to earth I don't think anyone is saying "preservationism" is the only way to save the world. I think there has to be a balance. Right now all our eggs (islands) are in one basket and regulated by one line of thinking. Can you say Enron?

Next in his letter today, John suggests doing a Google search for "pew anti fishing". I did and I've scanned the top five results. If that's what he’s looking to discredit Pew with he might want to make his point a little easier to find. Of course sometimes the best way to determine if a source is credible or not is to take a look at what they've done / said in the past and compare it to the present.

As many have done in this debate I did a Google search early on for “John Gourley Saipan”. At the time the link I'm about to refer was on the first page. Now, given John's popularity in the bloging world, it's been pushed back to page 3. Interestingly the current top result for "John Gourley Saipan" is now this blog!

Anyway, it's just easier if you simply cut and paste this title "The Impact of the Regulations Resulting from the Events of September 11th" into Google and click on the first item - be aware it's a PDF down load.

The document is a WESPAC report with plenty of references by Mr. Gourley. I don't want to type out the whole section about the CNMI nor do I want to misquote or take John's words out of context so please read the file - page 11 and 12. I find his remarks quite interesting considering his number one reason for opposing the monument in the first place is the restriction on commercial fisheries.

The same industry he speaks of in these terms...

"Fishing is certainly not one of the main contributions to the economy of the CNMI. ..... while the seas remain largely undisturbed by large commercial fishing ventures".

"Most of those who fish in the CNMI do so from smaller boats that stay within 20 miles from land. The main take by commercial, subsistence and recreational fishers is skipjack tuna"

“Despite the local fishers, CNMI must import fish {to supply demand}... If a local fisherperson has a good catch, they may not have any customers due to the previous agreements with importers”. (Gourley, 2002)

This is the best one...

“There is little incentive for Asian longline fishing vessels to port in Saipan because Guam is closer to the southern fishing grounds and has better facilities as well as cheaper fuel and re-supplying costs. At the moment there simply is not an adequate infrastructure for the transshipment of fresh tuna”. (Gourley, 2002)

Then writing about a failed commercial venture.
“.... they were unable to catch enough fish to make it profitable”.

“While there is a growing Japanese market for skipjack, the most commonly caught fish in the NMI, Gourley suggested that fight quality yellowfin and bigeye or processed loins would be the most profitable”.

Doesn’t this last one really stress the sound science used behind selective extraction decisions - NOT!

The rest of his statements clearly and completely contradict his current number one reason to nix the monument discussions all together and that is the protection of the commercial fishery. Come on John, let’s stop trying to scare everyone into thinking the park will prevent a lucrative commercial fishery. The bottom line is it has not been feasible to this day without a monument nor is it going to be feasible in the foreseeable future with (or without) a monument. The benefits of hedging our bets while creating world wide recognition as well as preserving a portion of the archipelago for future generations to enjoy in all it’s glory far out weigh the possibility that a few might make ends meet selectively fishing those same waters.

John’s second reason for his opposition revolves around the permanent elimination of drilling and mineral extraction from the park area. Again, I agree 1/3 of the EEZ is a large area but, it still leaves 2/3 up for grabs should it ever become feasible to actually extract something of value out of the waters that, currently by law, the CNMI does not own anyway.

Let's be slightly realistic shall we!

And finally, we come to the third reason why John cannot support the monument. He says it is not based on sound scientific study (data) and (Pew) “still don't have any significant justification for the designation of a National Monument in the CNMI”

It’s late I’m going to have to leave all the reasons Pew has given during the presentations to another post. They are numerous and in many cases very tangible. Worth discussing I’d say eh!


lil_hammerhead said...

Great piece.

ya what you said...


Neutral Dive Gear said...

Haha, you've got to see this video.




Jeff said...

Someone needs to send his quotes to the newspaper. What a joke this guy is. Great work, Mike.