April 4, 2017 — The following was written by Peter H. Flournoy, a representative of the Western Fishboat Owners’ Association, in response to a March 31 op-ed in the New York Times:
I have represented U.S. commercial fishermen for about 35 years, primarily working in the Pacific Ocean. I believe the primary concern of Republicans and Democrats who oppose the Act stems from where the Antiquities Act has been used, primarily by Presidents Bush and Obama, to close large areas of the ocean on both coasts to U.S. fishermen. Sometimes the expressed rationale is to protect the ocean bottom or coral reefs in certain areas, however, too often this also ends all surface fishing, which has no contact with the ocean floor. Traditionally U.S. fisheries are managed under the Magnuson Stevens Act. The Councils formed under this statute are the entities with the fishery management expertise. When the Antiquities Act is used, they are closed out.
While it may be that the Antiquities Act should be used for land areas, for the ocean there is the Marine Sanctuaries Act, which has a very public, transparent, and inclusive process.
In your opinion piece you also frequently used the number of tourists who visit the national parks which have grown from Antiquities Act set asides. I doubt I could count more than a hundred visitors to the marine protected areas which have been established. These visitors are not your common middle class citizen that finds pleasure in taking his family to view nature’s majesty at minimum expense. The only people that can enjoy the marine sanctuaries that have been set up under the Antiquities Act are those rich enough to own cabin cruisers or dedicated sufficiently to enjoy the expensive sport of scuba diving.
I hope the next time you lecture your classes on the Antiquities Act you might mention some of the above concerns.