Environmentalist Says Fishermen Given Concessions
President Barack Obama's announcement that 5,000 square miles of ocean off of the Massachusetts coast is being declared a marine monument was met with anger by many in the fishing industry.
Some industry members say it was done without consideration for the harm it could do to their livelihoods.
However, Peter Shelley, the Senior Counsel for the Conservation Law Foundation, told WBSM News that many changes were made to the original plan after input was received from community leaders, industry representatives, and the public.
"The proposal that was put up by the Connecticut delegation for a marine monument in that area was dramatically reduced in response to comments and concerns raised by people in New Bedford and other places," said Shelley.
Shelley also says that a seven year grace period, that was granted to lobster fishermen, is a very rare concession.
"The seven year grace period, which is virtually unheard of in marine monuments, was given to allow people time to relocate their businesses in an orderly manner," said Shelley.
Shelley also says that this was an essential measure to ensure the longterm survival of many species as they face the threat of climate change.
"The area that's been protected is scientifically of great importance and is also a hotspot for much of the marine life that people are in love with," said Shelley "whales, turtles, they all are concentrated in this area."
While he does think that this announcement is an overall positive one Shelley said that more work needs to be done to improve the relationship between environmentalists and the fishing industry.
"In the future it's going to be very important for the fishing community, the conservation community, and the science community to work very closely together," said Shelley "and I think some bridges that are going to be important need to be built so that some of these efforts are seen in a more cooperative spirit than the fishermen obviously see this one."