Thursday, June 18, 2009

More Wespac Misinformation

The Marianas Variety has an article today chock full of more Wespac misinformation. Let's dissect the article paragraph by paragraph.
Fishermen, NMI officials want 3 miles of Monument

CNMI officials and local fishermen insisted on Tuesday that the three nautical miles surrounding the recently designated Marine Monument in the Northern Islands should be shared with the people of the commonwealth.
The people writing the Wespac talking points are great political linguists. Often in writing, what you don't write is inferred by what you do write. In saying that the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument "should be shared with the people of the commonwealth," it is assumed that it is not currently being shared, that somehow those waters have been taken away from the local people. If anything, the monument has opened up those waters to the local people. How many locals had never seen a picture of those islands and waters before last year's campaign?  How many people had never heard of a beaked whale?  A humphead parrotfish?  They have now.  Furthermore, anyone at anytime can hop in a boat and go up there. Want to go fishing while you are there? The monument allows fishing! What's really the problem here?  Is it more a deep-rooted hatred of the Federal government?
Former Rep. Benigno M. Sablan, who chaired the regional ecosystem advisory committee meeting at the Fiesta Resort & Spa, and Department of Lands and Natural Resources Secretary Ignacio Dela Cruz said they oppose “giving away” the three-mile waters around Maug, Uracas and Asuncion to the federal government.
Discussing this is like beating a dead horse. The Commonwealth did not negotiate for submerged lands before the Covenant was signed, mainly because the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea Treaty was not adopted until 1982.  The Covenant was signed in 1976.  Check out the United Nations website for some historical perspective. The Commonwealth is not "giving away" anything because they never "had" anything.  And again, if anything, this monument has brought the world's attention to our natural wonders and is focusing the attention of a whole new generation of locals on our oceans.
President Bush’s declaration last January that designated the waters surrounding the three northernmost islands as part of the Marine Monument gave back to the CNMI three miles of its exclusive economic zone from the shores of Agrigan to Rota.
This is a false statement.  I have written to the editor, Zaldy Dandan, asking him to retract it.  The proclamation declaring the monument can be found here. I will buy a beer for the person that can find the passage giving the Commonwealth control over any submerged lands.

Political language is used again in the paragraph. When the Commonwealth gains control over some submerged lands, the control will not be "given back," it will be "given." We never had control, so it cannot be "given back."
Although the rest of panel members declined to take a stand on the issue, they expressed concerns about losing the three-mile state waters in the Marine Monument.
Again, there are no state waters. Nothing is being lost.  And what is it that they are assuming is being lost?  The "right" to sell those waters off to foreign fishing vessels?  That is the only restriction that has been imposed.
Sablan said accepting the three miles of EEZ from Agrigan to Rota is actually giving away the same size of water in the three northernmost islands.
No EEZ has been accepted because the monument proclamation does not include language about transferring any submerged lands to anyone. Sablan is at best misinformed.
Dela Cruz also opposed the exlusion of Maug, Asuncion and Uracas in the three-mile offer. “We need three miles of the EEZ in the Monument too,” he said.
Again, what offer? And what exclusion?

Are these officials working under the assumption that the Commonwealth has been given jurisdiction of the submerged lands from 0-3 miles? This has not been accomplished yet.

Representative Sablan has a bill he is introducing in the United States Congress that would grant the Commonwealth jurisdiction over those state waters, but there are no state waters now. What are these guys at the Wespac meeting talking about, other than trying to make people angry at the Federal government?

The Friends of the Monument have some concerns about the submerged lands bill that Sablan is introducing. We are worried that he is going to poke three giant gaping donut holes in the monument, right in the area with the highest biodiversity and productivity. We have yet to see the language of the bill, so we have not taken a stand on this issue, although we support the Commonwealth's efforts to gain control over state waters.

The stance of the Friends of the Monument is the same today as it was when we published our Vision Letter back in October 2008:

The Friends of the Monument want the state waters surrounding Asuncion, Maug, and Uracas to remain a part of the monument, but under the jurisdiction of the Commonwealth, to be co-managed with the entire 95,000 square mile monument by the Commonwealth, Department of Commerce, and Department of Interior.


a beaked whale said...

Well, I checked out the proclamation, and what I found was repeated references to "lands owned or controlled by the Government of the United States."

What lands are being referred to here, and how did they come to be owned or controlled by the Government of the United States? And which is it anyway -- owned or controlled?

Saipan Writer said...

beaky--The lands owned or controlled by the US are the submerged lands from the high tide mark out to 200 miles. This "became" US land when the CNMI gave the US sovereignty...and it is one of the few failings by the Covenant negotiators.

The long-existing US law apparently had this effect and the Covenant was otherwise silent on the submerged lands. No one in the CNMI likes the effect of this, but it's a fact we have to accept.

and negotiate for at least a 3-mile EEZ for the CNMI. Which will take an act of congress.

Angelo--you need to write this as a letter for the newspaper, where it will be seen by more people.

Jeff said...

This guy doesn't care about waters or submerged lands. Serious debate doesn't matter because that's not his point. The point is to get name recognition by being the champion against the federal bogeyman in order to participate in the only game in town: to be one of the hundreds of useless elected officials in the CNMI. Sad really.

bradinthesand said...

issues like these should serve as reasons alone for you to continue blogging here.

"do it for the children"
-ziggy korytoski

a beaked whale said...

OK, so who owned or controlled this land before the US acquired sovereignty?

Also: What's the difference between the 200-mile zone and the 3-mile zone? And somewhere I have also heard of a 12-mile zone. Are these three different things?

The Saipan Blogger said...

Read the United Nations link. Before 1982 there was no 200 mile zone. And for hundreds of years your EEZ was the distance your canons could fire from shore.

a beaked whale said...

One more: Since the US acquired sovereignty, does that mean it owns the lands, controls them, or both? Is it possible to own the lands without controlling them (or control them without owning them)?