Just wanted to comment on the submerged lands article by Gemma in today's paper:
"If the bill is enacted into law, the commonwealth will have the option of exercising full control over the submerged lands surrounding the northernmost islands of Maug, Uracas and Asuncion, or decide to enter with a co-management system with the federal government as embodied in the presidential proclamation that created the marine monument or sanctuary in the area."Nowhere in the Jan 6 proclamation does the word "co-management" appear. While the Friends of the Marianas Trench Monument asked for and lobbied for co-management, similar to how Hawaii and American Samoa co-manage with the federal government their national marine sanctuaries, co-management was removed from the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument proclamation during Governor Fitial's "negotiations" of a "reasonable" monument. Also removed during the "negotiations" was our proposal to have a monument managed by NOAA National Marine Sanctuaries Program, making the likelihood of a visitors center and a boat much less likely.
The Friends of the Marianas Trench Monument earlier this year asked Representative Sablan to include "co-management" in his submerged lands bill, but he chose not to entertain our request. We also asked him to add language transferring jurisdiction from US Fish & Wildlife to NMSP so that we could get a visitors center and a boat. That request was not entertained, either.
In his defense, however, Kilili at least met with us and had his staff meet with us several times before finally telling us no. I wish we could say the same for our sitting governor, who has denied us the opportunity to plead our case at every juncture, preferring to sick his attack dogs on us over listening to us.
The stance of the Friends remains the same as it was in October 2008 when we published our Vision letter. The three miles should remain a part of the monument, but under the jurisdiction of the CNMI and co-managed along with the entire monument with NMSP. Kilili's bill would not accomplish this and would most likely cut three gaping donut holes in the most biologically and geologically diverse area of the monument.