Guam Fishermen Unhappy With Navy’s Plans for Marianas Range Complex in Waters Where They Fish

By Clynt Ridgell, Pacific News Center, 12/13/11

Guam – Fisherman’s Co-Op President Manny Duenas says many island fishermen are not happy about the Navy’s plans for the Marianas Islands Training and Testing Area and Range Complex because most of the area will be used for live fire exercises which will keep fisherman out when training is underway.

Representatives from the Navy met with members of the Guam Fisherman’s co-op Tuesday night to explain the plans for the Range Complex.

Aheadf of that meeting, Duenas told PNC News that the seven southern banks where 50 percent of the island’s fish comes from are already being used as part of the Navy’s training and testing area. 

“Our concern here is right now we have four shoreline areas that are being proposed to be closed off to us we have about 14 thousand square miles of our best fishing grounds already closed to us. So you’re talking about anywhere from 0 to 200 hundred miles out to the international waters that’s going to be closed again should the military decide that it wants to do some training,” said Duenas.

Meanwhile, Senator Judi Guthertz has issued a statment in support of the fishermen. She is urging the Navy “establish a Marianas fishing community advisory committee that focuses on military activities in the Marianas.”

The Senator’s release quotes Kitty Simonds of  the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council [WESPAC] who has suggested that the buildup related Civilian-Military Coordination Council could help with communication, if members of the fishing community were members.

Simonds is quoted as saying “There is a strong sense from Marianas fishing communities that existing military activities in the [Marianas Islands Range Complex] have displaced fishermen,” adding that “fishing in the Marianas is more than a simple past time [sic], but an activity that strongly connects individuals and communities to deep- rooted cultural traditions.”

READ Senator Guthertz’s release in FULL below:

SENATOR GUTHERTZ CASTS HER SUPPORT TO THREATENED LOCAL FISHERMEN

Local fishermen in both Guam and elsewhere in the Mariana Islands are increasingly worried that no less than three environmental impact studies
currently underway by the U.S. military may threaten both their traditional lifestyle and means of making a living.

Senator Judi Guthertz, a long time member of the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council, has joined with that organization’s executive
director and membership in urging that “the US Navy should establish a Marianas fishing community advisory committee that focuses on military
activities in the Marianas.” Kitty M. Simonds of WESPAC also suggested the Civilian Military Coordination Council could help with communication if
representatives of Marianas fishing communities and the Council were included as members.

Simonds said that, “There is a strong sense from Marianas fishing communities that existing military activities in the [Marianas Islands Range Complex] have displaced fishermen” from such areas as the Southern Banks off Guam and Farallon de Medinilla in the CNMI.

Simonds added that “Fishing in the Marianas is more than a simple past time [sic], but an activity that strongly connects individuals and communities to deep- rooted cultural traditions.”

Senator Guthertz noted that the Guam legislature was recently briefed on the current environmental impact studies by a Navy representative and, “We were encouraged to hear that this Navy representative would be meeting with our Guam Fishermen’s Cooperative Association Tues. Dec. 13 at 7pm in the evening to consult on the MIRC SEIS.”

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