Canastra: Obama’s Maritime Monument Will Negatively Impact New Bedford Fishing
President Barack Obama says he created the first monument in the Atlantic Ocean because the planet cannot be protected without trying to safeguard the oceans.
Obama announced the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument while he attended a State Department conference on Thursday. The monument consists of nearly 5,000 square miles of underwater canyons and mountains off the New England coast, roughly 100 miles south of Cape Cod.
Richard Canastra of the Whaling City Seafood Display Auction tells WBSM News he sees nothing in that swath of seabed that requires protecting. "It's not a special area. It's just power, showing an ocean grab. It's a victory for the environmental groups. All it is is just showing their power," said Canastra. "Hopefully, under a new administration, this could be reversed."
The new monument encompasses ocean area south of Georges Bank, a key fishing spot. The declaration prohibits commercial fishing in that area. Canastra says most fishermen will have to cease fishing operations in the area within 60 days, while certain fisherman are being granted an exception. "The lobster fishermen and the crabbers have seven years to try to find other grounds to fish on. Hopefully, the lobsters will be advised also to move in other areas."
Canastra adds the reduction of fishable grounds will only increase the price of locally caught seafood. "You're going to be paying two to three times more than what you do for these imports. The imports, the regulations aren't as strict with the fish coming into the country, so be careful what you get."
Supporters say protecting large swaths of ocean from human stresses can sustain important species and reduce the toll of climate change.