4 Sep 2008

Opponents say planned Northern Marianas marine monument unnecessary

7:33 pm on 4 September 2008

While a tense public debate in the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas has heard strong arguments in favour of plans to create a marine monument, opponents say the plan is unnecessary.

The United States Federal Government is planning to establish the reserve in the territory's northern islands to conserve 115 thousand square miles of ocean, protecting the biodiversity of the area.

But the Director of CNMI's Division of Fish and Wildlife, Sylvan Igisomar is questioning the urgency of the proposal and says there are already sufficient safeguards in place.

"Is this just something the president of the United States is doing to appease his most critical critics. Number two is that the monument is not really working in Hawaii, whereas one of the major acts in US law that applies out here, the Magnuson-Stevens Act has been here for many, many years and has been made better and better."

Sylvan Igisomar says establishing a monument would also remove the rights of local people to decide how to regulate the CNMI's ocean resources.