Coral Reef Ecosystem Plan
bob at westpacfisheries.net
Thu Dec 9 10:33:01 EST 1999
We are very concerned that the Western Pacific Council is moving forward with public hearings in the coming weeks concerning the Coral Reef Ecosystem Plan. They are doing so even after the Council, NOAA and NMFS instructed that the staff hold joint Coral Reef Plan Team Meetings with the Advisory Panel. However this was not done as only the chairman of both the AP and Plan team met with the Council staff, which is highly suspicious, knowing the history of what has transpired during the Plan Team and AP process. Reports were altered without the approval of the Plan Team and AP members and then presented as their work.
The Plan Team was comprised of Coral Reef Experts, yet 95% of their recommendations were disregarded by the Council in lieu of less restrictive measures, which could impact EFH, as well as endangered and threatened species. Facts and observer information concerning fishermen using fire arms and bait to deter interactions with Monk Seals and dolphins in the North West Hawaiian Islands were not given consideration and the public perception is that the Council is once again violating NEPA and CEQ guidelines which state; "when several proposals for....related action that will have cumulative or synergistic environmental impact upon a region are pending concurrently before an agency, their environmental consequences must be considered together. (40 CFR Sec. 1508.18).
In part our concerns include, but are not limited to, recommendations in defining the scope of the bottomfish, lobster, pelagic and Seamount Groundfish FMPs and the Coral Reef Ecosystem FMP. In short we wish to stress the need that all plans be included in the Coral Reef Ecosystem FMP and not simply linked by existing FMPs. We further believe that they all need to be evaluated according to the CEQ Guidelines and provide a full and frank discussion of all the potential direct, indirect and cumulative impacts that the proposed Coral Reef Ecosystem FMP can have on the environment.
We therefore request that any public hearing be postponed until these and other concerns are addressed and this fast track that the Council is determined to put this plan on be stopped.
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