Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Bill 160

I've been involved in some form or another with the issue of indigenous fishing rights for Chamorros since 2009. I've attended dozens of meetings, worked on dozens of documents and talked to hundreds about the issue. It has been a largely frustrating endeavor, as the issue is so heavily laden with ideology, that even before you have said anything, people, often with little to no thought or information have already determined their response. What is so strange about Bill 160, is the way it seems to avoid or ignore what progress we've made on the issue of indigenous fishing rights, while creating another layer of government, which could conflict with existing layers of government resource management. I'm supposed to write up a response to Bill 160 and the discussion around it, and so I wanted to share some of the recent articles about it.

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Contentious public hearing for fisheries conservation legislation
by Sabrina Salas Matanane
KUAM
November 17, 2015
http://www.kuam.com/story/30477504/2015/11/10/contentious-public-hearing-for-fisheries-conservation-legislation

After the hearing was called off last week,  the controversial Guam Ocean and Fisheries Conservation Act of 2015 finally had its public hearing this morning at the Guam Legislature. Right from the start, Bill 160 ran into some rough waters.

Senator Jim Espaldon said, "If the author felt his original bill was inadequate I think it would be appropriate to move to remove the bill and make the real changes and reintroduce the bill." At issue was what the senator felt the hearing shouldn't have been held because the author, Senator Brant McCreadie,  said he would be substituting the original bill with a new one to reflect feedback he'd received from several sectors of the community.

McCreadie said, "My intention for this bill is to get everyone together to get the professionals the island community and come up with something that we can all put our arms around."

Despite the objection the hearing proceeded. Bill 160 creates a special council to coordinate and promote the conservation of Guam's oceans, fisheries, marine and freshwater resources.  It would also establish a funding source for the construction of boat ramps in Yigo and Talofofo. And although Senator McCreadie received a petition with over 300 signatures in support of his bill,  during Tuesday's hearing there were still many questions and concerns from fisherman like Ronald Laguana who alleged there was a hidden agenda.

"I am in opposition of this bill currently because it allows the micromanagement of our fisheries resources to certain groups of individuals the council of themselves. I'm not a member of the Fishermen's Coop or Farmers Coop because the regulatory matter control us do not allow us the free market," he stated.

Tom Camacho is the president of the Guam Organization of Saltwater Anglers. He testified that people have a hard time swallowing change. Change can be good or bad but if we don't start somewhere we're not going to get anywhere. He urged everyone to take the time to thoroughly read the bill. "And I've heard that we've got an agenda, that GOSA has an agenda, that the Co-op has an agenda, MUFF has agenda - what agenda we want to go do good for island for our people and we want to be sustainable if we continue to go the way we are , we are not going to be sustainable, no," he said.

At the end of the hearing Senator Tina Muna Barnes committed to holding a mark up on the bill by no later than the end of the year.

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 Lawmaker calls for better marine preserve enforcement
by Robert Q. Tupaz
Guam Daily Post
August, 25, 2015

AN ISLAND lawmaker wants stricter enforcement of regulations concerning marine preserves around Guam. As a result, the senator has proposed legislation that would require permits and fees be implemented for the harvesting of fish and other marine life and commercial marine operations in the waters of Guam. The fees would help fund enhanced protection of the areas.

Sen. Brant McCreadie introduced Bill 160-33, the Guam Ocean and Fisheries Conservation Act of 2015. The measure, according to the lawmaker, “seeks to improve enforcement efforts of Guam’s Marine Protected Areas.”

The measure proposes the creation of a Guam Ocean and Fisheries Management Council whose operations would be funded through a Guam Ocean and Fisheries Conservation and Development Fund.

McCreadie said in a media release that his proposal will provide more enforcement to protect the island’s designated marine protected areas around the island.

The protected areas include Tumon Bay, the Piti Bomb Holes, Sasa Bay Marine Preserve, Achang Reef Flat and Pati Point.

Conservation officers

Initially, funds generated would be used to hire conservation officers and purchase equipment to patrol the preserves, McCreadie said. In addition, provisions in the legislation seek to construct boat ramps in the northern and southern parts of Guam. “The boat ramps will be strategically placed to allow access to the northern and eastern waters of Guam for first responders, emergency personnel and the general public,” McCreadie said.

The council would have the duty of overseeing the use of the funds through the Guam Department of Agriculture in hope of promoting sustainable use of Guam’s oceans, fisheries, marine and freshwater resources within various communities on Guam, McCreadie said.

“The Guam Ocean and Fisheries Conservation Act of 2015 is a measure to ensure that Guam’s marine resources are protected and will be available for generations to come,” McCreadie said.

Guam Liberation fishing event eyed

In tandem with Bill 160, McCreadie introduced Bill 161-33. The measure expands the island’s annual Liberation Day festivities by including a Guam Liberation fishing event.

“The Guam Liberation fishing event aims to encourage participation among the sports fishermen from Guam and from neighboring islands in the Pacific,” McCreadie said. “To ensure the success of the events, the governor will appoint a committee of fishermen and interested individuals to work with the Guam Visitors Bureau to plan and promote the events.”

McCreadie added, “The intent of this bill is to incorporate the existing fishing derby, with the addition of the spearfishing challenge and shoreline challenge, with the island’s Liberation festivities. Bringing these events together is a win-win situation for the island’s fishermen and the people of Guam.”

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 Guam Marine Preserve Measure Divides Fishing Community
by Robert Q. Tupaz
The Marianas Variety
November 15, 2015


HAGÅTÑA — Legislation to set a $2 fee among other provisions contained in Bill 160 raised native right concerns during a public hearing held on the measure earlier this week.

According to Sen. Brant McCreadie who introduced the bill in August, the Guam Ocean and Fisheries Conservation Act of 2015.seeks to improve enforcement efforts of Guam’s Marine Protected Areas.

The hearing got off to a rocky start as Sen. James Espaldon questioned committee chairperson Tina Muna Barnes about the appropriateness of hearing a measure that the author committed to amending ahead of any hearing. 


Barnes announced that McReadie wanted to make changes and would speak about those changes with his introduction. Espaldon felt that the measure hearing was improper because Barnes announced that the author already intended to make significant changes in spite of the public notice stating that Bill 160-33 would be heard — not an amended version. “If there are changes to be made, it’ll be made after the public hearing,” Espaldon said. “It is not to be presented right here, right now.”
Barnes disagreed. “I am just telling the community that the author of this Bill wants to make changes.” Barnes said she would allow the hearing to continue and accept testimony on the original version.

Espaldon maintained his contention that the measure be withdrawn and reintroduced with a proper announcement of the version McCreadie marked up. Still, Barnes continued with the hearing, which Espaldon stayed for the duration.

Barnes, chairperson of the committee, explained that the measure was referred to her in her capacity as chair of the legislative committee with oversight over tourism because the proposed seed money would be raised through a $2 occupancy tax. McCreadie said with the fee, the fund could generate $2 million to $3 million annually.

A Guam Ocean and Fisheries Management Council administered out of the Department of Agriculture would oversee the funds and direct the operations of the entity.

The council would have the duty of overseeing the use of the funds through the Guam Department of Agriculture in hope of promoting sustainable use of Guam’s oceans, fisheries, marine and freshwater resources within various communities on Guam, McCreadie said.

Certain individuals raised concern about the composition of the council asking how the make-up was conceptualized.

The funds raised would help with stricter enforcement of regulations concerning marine preserves around Guam. As well, the proposal would require permits and fees be implemented for the harvesting of fish and other marine life and commercial marine operations in the waters of Guam. The fees would help fund enhanced protection of the areas.

The protected areas include Tumon Bay, the Piti Bomb Holes, Sasa Bay Marine Preserve, Achang Reef Flat and Pati Point.

Ron Laguana a self-described subsistence fisherman who is recognized as a perpetuator of the Chamorro culture said he opposed the measure. “I am in opposition of this bill, currently,” Laguana said. “It allows the micromanagement of our fisheries resources to certain groups of individuals — the council themselves.” Laguana said he was concerned that as a non-member of the fisherman or farmers coop, his hands would be tied in how he dispenses with his daily catch.

Manny Duenas, president of the Guam Fishermen’s cooperative, spoke in favor of the measure. McCreadie said Duenas was instrumental in crafting the legislation. “It empowers the people of Guam,” Duenas said. “He added, “We need to build this infrastructure if we want to build fisheries.”
Funds generated would also be used to hire conservation officers and purchase equipment to patrol the preserves, McCreadie said. In addition, provisions in the legislation seek to construct boat ramps in the northern and southern parts of Guam. “The boat ramps will be strategically placed to allow access to the northern and eastern waters of Guam for first responders, emergency personnel and the general public,” McCreadie said.

Mayor Doris Lujan said she supported with amendments to repair a current boat ramp in her village, Bill 160. Lujan said she specifically agreed with the construction of boat ramps on the north-eastern, south-eastern and eastern coasts of Guam.

“The Guam Ocean and Fisheries Conservation Act of 2015 is a measure to ensure that Guam’s marine resources are protected and will be available for generations to come,” McCreadie said.
Several persons asked that Barnes conduct a second public hearing at a time when more island fishermen could attend.

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 Fishermen Concerned About Guam Ocean and Fisheries Conservation Act of 2015
by Clynt Ridgell
Pacific News Center
November 10, 2015

Some fishermen aired their concerns about the Guam Ocean and Fisheries Conservation Act of 2015 during a public hearing on the bill on Tuesday. 
Guam - Senators had some heated debate over Senator Brant McCreadie's Guam Ocean and Fisheries Conservation Act of 2015. During today's public hearing some local fisherman came out to tesitfy in opposition to the measure.

 "Madame chair I still object even if it's duly noted. If it's duly noted then we should at least discuss it because again I understand but we are presented with a bill and if there are any corrections that need to be made they will be made at the public hearing at which then the committee will come and add whatever reccomendations on top of everythying and still make the changes on the floor but right now it still seems impropper to say that we're gonna hear both bills,” said Senator Jim Espaldon. However Senator Tina Muna Barnes opted to continue with the hearing.
 Cathy Flores McCollum is concerned that this bill may ruin the efforts of indigenous fishing rights. "Bill 160-33 COR is a very precarious approach to indigenous fishing rights,” said McCollum adding, “Permit fees fair or too much? Who will be profitting?" McCollum also asked "When one profits from the sale of fish and is Chamoru should he be exempt from these permits and take the normal route of licensing for profit?" 3:20
 Local fisherman Ronald Laguana testified against the bill. "I am in opposition of this bill currently because it allows the micromanagement of our fisheries resources to certain groups of individuals the council themselves,” said Laguana adding, "To allow me to pay fees and fines for regulatory purposes is an injustice.” Laguana is skeptical of the motives behind the bills. "Are they going to guarantee to regulate the coop? And this council is going to regulate these fees for those people or what about themsleves? Are they going to be waived for these council members these coop members?" said Laguana adding "I'm only fighting for the rights of the indigenous people and the future generations of our children and our Chamorus." Laguana also asked for the hearing to be held after business hours as many local fisherman have told him they couldn't make today's hearing becuase they were working. "I suggest that you reschedule this to allow other fisherman to come out here because many of them are surprised about this,” said Laguana.
 Meanwhile local fisherman Joe Chargualaf said he is in favor of the bill because it would help regulate the fishing industry. "The sooner this bill is worked on I think it would be for the benefit of the entire community on this island."

 At the beginning of the hearing Senator McCreadie told the public that he already had another version of the bill ready to be introduced based on a lot of the meetings he's held with various stakeholders.

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