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Trump Aide Says Fishing Should be Allowed in MPAs

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Rose Atoll in the Pacific

Marine scientists fear that the Trump administration is planning to allow commercial fishing in two of the world's largest protected zones in the Pacific.

The plans to rescind the protection around the Pacific Remote Islands - a vast reserve south of Hawaii and Rose Atoll near Samoa were leaked to the Washington Post last week,

Rose Atoll Marine created in 2009 by President George W Bush, protects 13,400 square miles of rare and endangered marine animals and seabirds, including giant clams, parrotfishes, sharks, whales the largest ever of nesting turtles in American Samoa—as well as the Rose Atoll Wildlife Refuge, created in 1973 to protect the rose-colored corals for which it was named.

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The Pacific Remote Islands protected zone was enlarged by President Obama in 2014 and is one of the largest marine protected areas on the planet covering 490,000 sq miles.

The Trump administration's plans have caused uproar among conservationists.

'This recommendation runs counter to the views of millions of Americans and the overwhelming global consensus on ocean conservation,” said a spokesman for Conservation International. “The world understands that we need more protection of our oceans, not less. Just in the past two months, we have seen major new commitments from Canada, Colombia, Chile and the Cook Islands expanding marine protections in their waters. These nations understand that healthy oceans are critical for productive fisheries and economic growth. The Administration’s proposed rollback is out of step with that reality.'

Alan Friedlander of the University of Hawaii at Mānoa in Honolulu said the areas are crucial for measuring the impacts of climate change.

'We need baselines,' he said. 'We need pristine reefs to see what we’ve lost elsewhere, to better manage damaged reefs and to isolate the effects of climate change.'

A memo from Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke was leaked to newspapers in which he argued that the areas are overprotected. Banning economic activity within these reserves, he said wasn't necessary to 'protect specific objects'.

 

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