Governors of the US Pacific Islands request meeting with President
The Governors of American Samoa, Guam, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands have requested to meet with President Biden to express their concerns over the potential expansion of fishery closures through the designation of a marine sanctuary in the U.S. Pacific Remote Island Areas' full economic exclusive zones (EEZ).
The proposed closures would affect the local tuna economy of American Samoa and deprive the U.S. Pacific Territories of economic development opportunities, which are essential for their survival.
Governor Lemanu stressed that “the backbone of American Samoa’s economy depends on the viability of the StarKist cannery and supply from U.S.-flagged tuna purse seiners.
This local industry supports 5,000 jobs in the territory with an estimated workforce of 18,000 people.”
In a letter to the President last month, the Governors stated, “Fisheries are the leading source of economic development that binds us to our neighboring Pacific Island nations.
Further closures would be in direct conflict with your Administration's Indo-Pacific Economic Framework and counter to principles of equity and environmental justice."
The Governors emphasized the negative impact the closures would have on their already disadvantaged and marginalized communities.
The letter further stated that these closures would be unnecessary to fulfil the aspirations of the “America the Beautiful” Initiative.
Pacific Marine Monuments comprise 26% (892,241 square nautical miles) of the federal EEZ and 90% of the Initiative’s goal to conserve 30% of the oceans by 2030.
The Governors thanked the President for hosting informal discussions with them at the White House earlier this year and requested further consultation on the matter before any decision is made.
"Our communities and constituents inhabit islands in proximity to the Pacific Remote Island Areas…[we] carry a disproportionate burden for meeting national conservation goals."