Guam – Guam Fisherman’s Co-Op President Manny Duenas has issued a detailed release in opposition to Vice-Speaker B.J. Cruz’s Coral Reef Protection Act.
Senator Cruz’s Bill No. 120 is slated for a public hearing Tuesday afternoon at 4 before Senator Rory Respicio’s Committee on Natural Resources.
In an e-mail appeal to supporters Duuenas writes that the Legislation “would adversely affect not only our fishing community but all boat operators and marine users.”
Among the Fisherman’s Co-Op concerns cited by Dueanas are:
* There are existing Local Laws which already address corals. The removal or the most commonly used “Taking” of Coral is in place however enforcement is insufficient.
* This measure effectively kills any Bottomfishing or Spearfishing by the fishermen since it protects all corals alive or dead. Free-divers anchor their boats as it is a common strategy used, mostly for safety concerns. All anchoring is done on hard bottom areas and not on soft coral areas in order for anchors to work effectively. Most corals outside the reef are hard corals and any damage minimal if any. Technically all anchoring will be prohibited.
* This Legislation is an enforcement nightmare. DAR personnel are currently paid by Sportsfish Funds which does not allow for enforcement so conservation Officers must be tasked to enforce this legislation. They lack training or expertise in addressing coral damages, likewise with anyone from DAR.
* A General fund appropriation is needed in order to hire personnel to perform this task to include over-time. Again, further use of government resources since GEPA has jurisdiction.
* This Legislation is discriminatory since enforcement will be imposed only on the legal activities of local residents.
* The environmental damage caused by the red dirt running down the hillside above Double Reef for the last two years was ignored by the same agency.
* Marine Lab or like entities will be the beneficiary of this legislation since DAR lacks the capacity or competency to address any damages to our reefs, the Bill seems to also recognizes this shortcoming.
* Guam is not like Florida or other areas of Micronesia where there are huge inner lagoons and reefs where damages are eminent. Any damages by our small boating community are purely accidental and the penalties will be insurmountable when compared to the cost of damages to property.
* This Legislation may increase the cost of owning a vessel and effectively destroy an already fragile boating community.
* This action is discriminatory since it targets one user group. Selective enforcement again will be the norm.
* This Bill is an exercise in futility. DAR has continuously demonstrated its inability to address any environmental damages or perform current duties.