Guam – Members of the Chamorru Nation held a sit in protest at the legislature today [Wednesday] over the issue of indigenous fishing rights.
The protesters feel that some of their traditional fishing rights have been taken away from them.
The sit-in took place outside the offices of Senator Rory Respicio and Judi Guthertz.
The group says they’ve been waiting over a year for Bill 190 to make it to the session floor. If passed, the measure would allow for fishing in Guam Marine Preserve areas.
A similar bill passed by the legislature in the December 2008, but it was later vetoed because of concern that Guam would lose some federal funding for allowing fishing in a preserve.
However, Trini Torres of the Taotaomona Native Rights group told PNC News ” our ancestors have been fishing in these water for over 6,000 years and its our right.”
Torres also said it is important “to our people, because some people are still depending on fishing to feed their families. There are a lot of poor people out their and some of them are being arrested fishing in the marine preserves. Not only that but if you go out fishing in the rough waters you may drown, then who will support you families. That is how important to us.”
Torres also said “people who oppose the bill may say you can go to Payless to buy the fish, but where will you get the money if you are poor.”
The Attorney General has advised that the measure is unconstitutional and inorganic. Lawmakers are working with the AG and the Department of Agriculture to develop new rules and regulations.