CNMI opposition to marine sanctuary

3:15 pm on 22 December 2016

A group in the Northern Marianas is opposed to designating the Marianas Trench as a marine sanctuary.

Traditional boat in the Marianas

A group opposing the designation of the Marianas Trench as a marine sanctuary says it would reduce access to natural resources. Photo: RNZI Mark Rabago

In a letter to President Barack Obama, a Marianas Conservation member John Gourley said turning the Marianas Trench into a sanctuary on top of being a marine national monument will give the CNMI less access to natural resources and minerals in the area.

Under that set-up the CNMI would need to obtain permission from the federal government twice - one for the trench being a national monument and another for the trench being a marine sanctuary- before its people can fish or mine in waters around the Marianas Trench.

Mr Gourley also criticised Pew Charitable Trust for failing deliver on promises it made when it pushed for the creation of the Marianas Trench National Monument in 2008.

Six years after its designation as a marine monument, there is still no visitor centre or a plan to co-manage the monument, much less a budget to make the plan feasible.

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