(Long Island, NY) Congressman Lee Zeldin (R, NY-1) announced today that an amendment he introduced in the House of Representatives to the Department of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act of 2017 (H.R. 5538) passed the House with a vote of 225 to 202. The Zeldin amendment bars funding for the designation of any National Marine Monuments by the President in the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). Marine Monuments are massive areas of ocean where fishing would be banned without consulting the local community, fishermen, or regional fisheries managers. You can watch the Congressman discuss his amendment on the House floor, by clicking here.
Congressman Zeldin’s amendment would prevent abuse of the Antiquities Act of 1906, which was signed into law by President Teddy Roosevelt, and gives a President the sole power to declare National Monuments on federal land and waters. These are traditionally historical sites and conservation areas that become part of the National Parks System. Throughout its history, the Antiquities Act has had bipartisan support, and was used to preserve the Statue of Liberty and Grand Canyon. However, for fishermen on Long Island and nationwide, the Obama administration’s overzealous interpretation of this law is causing great concern as the President is pushing to apply this power to large areas of ocean off the coast of the United States. In 2014, President Obama declared a 407,000 square mile National Marine Monument in the Pacific Ocean where commercial fishing was banned and recreational fishing was severely limited. Now, important fishing areas in the Northwest Atlantic, where fishermen from Greenport and Montauk have worked for centuries, are under consideration with little public input and no transparency.
Congressman Zeldin said, “The Antiquities Act has been an effective tool in the past to preserve historic sites like the Statue of Liberty, but the overly broad interpretation of this law held by the current Administration is threatening to shutdown thousands of square miles of ocean from fishing through a Presidential Proclamation. My amendment ensures that this President, or the next President, does not abuse the Antiquities Act to lock out thousands of fishermen on Long Island and nationwide from portions of federal waters that contain essential fisheries. We must protect our oceans and the solution is clear—any efforts to create a marine protected area must be done through the transparent process laid out by the Magnusson-Stevens fishery conservation law, not through executive fiat that threatens to put thousands of hardworking men and women out of business. Recent Marine Monument designations proclaimed by the Obama Administration have been the largest in U.S. history, locking out fishing in perpetuity—a severe departure from the original intent of the Antiquities Act to preserve historical sites and archeological treasures. Protecting the seafood economy, coastal communities, and the hardworking men and women of the seafood industry who provide for their families through fishing is a top priority for my constituents on the east end of Long Island. I will keep fighting to get this proposal signed into law on behalf of fishermen on Long Island and throughout the nation.”
Congressman Rob Bishop, Chairman, House Natural Resources Committee, said, “Many Presidents—but not all—have used the Antiquities Act, but they use it sparingly. Only a few Administrations, including this one, have abused the Act. President Obama has a long history of abusing the Antiquities Act, locking up land and water with the stroke of a pen. As we heard at a field hearing in Riverhead, New York, unilateral marine monument designations override the current public process of established fisheries management and threatens the livelihood of the U.S. fishing industry. Congressman Zeldin’s amendment brings us one step closer to protecting local economies while safeguarding local input in management decisions.”
Congressman Ken Calvert, Chairman, House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies, said, “I strongly support Rep. Zeldin’s amendment and am thankful that he’s raised this important issue. I believe monument designations should only be made when there is careful consultation and agreement between affected stakeholders and local officials. Unfortunately, the Obama administration continues to take an approach with little public input and no transparency.”
Jim Donofrio, Executive Director and Founder, Recreational Fishing Alliance, said, “Mr. Zeldin again proves he has the interests of the fishing community in his sights by introducing his amendment to H.R. 5525.”
Bonnie Brady, Executive Director, Long Island Commercial Fishing Association, said, “Long Island’s commercial fishermen and their coastal communities are incredibly appreciative of Congressman Lee Zeldin’s efforts to protect them from future Antiquities Act underwater monument designations through his amendment to HR 5388. Over eight million pounds of US seafood is sustainably harvested each year from the Georges Banks canyons and New England Seamounts within the EEZ, a great deal of which is caught by New York fishermen, sustaining hundreds of jobs in New York alone and nationwide thousands of jobs in coastal communities. These are the critical waters that Mr. Zeldin’s amendment will protect. Those that joined with Congressman Zeldin in supporting his amendment last night also voted to protect, and promote this nations’ economic security on behalf of US commercial fishermen who sustainably harvest our nation’s seafood, and we thank them for it. We are grateful for the Congressman’s tenacity and determination to continue to protect sustainable US commercial fishing.”