Many benefits from national monument
There is a lot of talk in the community about the Pew Environmental Group and their proposal to create a "National Park of the Sea." I have seen the presentation and as an indigenous fisherman, a father, and as someone who cares deeply about our islands, I can say that I fully support this project.
The CNMI has a long history of working with the Federal government on conservation issues. I know this because I spent my government career working with the Division of Environmental Quality, ultimately attaining the position of Director.
DEQ, CRM, and DFW are all funded by the federal government, but locally administered. Just drive by the DEQ office in Gualo Rai and count the number of trucks marked with "Federal Funded" on the door.
The CNMI has an opportunity to extend the protections granted to Uracus, Maug, and Asuncion by our Constitution to the waters surrounding those islands, most likely administered by locals and paid for with Federal dollars.
This is a win-win situation for our people and should be a no-brainer.
The closest island within the proposed marine park is over 300 miles away from Saipan. Not to say that some of us have never been up that far, but Chamorros and Carolinians are not going there regularly to fish. It is too far, too dangerous, and gas is just too expensive.
The only boats fishing there are illegal fishing boats from other Asian countries. The increased enforcement that would follow the creation of the park would help deter the illegal taking of our fish.
I encourage the people of the CNMI to look into this proposal. After getting all the facts, I suspect that most people will recognize that the proposed "Mariana Trench Marine Monument" will bring many benefits to the CNMI.
Ignacio V. Cabrera