NPCA, along with 64 partners, submitted the following position to members of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
Senators Cassidy and Rubio recently introduced S. 2807 that would greatly harm 88 coastal national parks from Alaska to Washington, from Florida to Maine. The legislation requires the Secretary of the Interior to obtain consent from state and territorial fish and wildlife management agencies before restricting recreation or commercial fishing access to any state or territorial marine waters, or Great Lakes waters within the jurisdiction of the National Park Service. The National Park Service (NPS) is already required to consult with states on fishing regulations and follows state regulations unless there is an ecological reason to set a higher protection standard, such as population depletion or damage to critical habitat. Therefore, this legislation is unnecessary and by limiting NPS authority, will cause undue harm to coastal national parks and the communities and livelihoods they support across the country.
S. 2807 would strip the NPS of its legal responsibility, under the 1916 Organic Act, to set reasonable limits on fishing to prevent overfishing, restore fish populations and habitats, and protect marine and lakeshore wildlife. If signed into law, this legislation would substitute that responsibility with a lower standard of protection. Many coastal parks, including Channel Islands National Park, Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, and San Juan Island National Historical Park, could see a weakening in protections designed to preserve wildlife. The federal government is obligated to protect these resources in perpetuity for the enjoyment of all Americans.
Additionally, this overreaching legislation would derail the final and fully vetted management plan for Biscayne National Park, which was based on scientific analysis, years of interagency cooperation and strong public support. The plan includes the creation of a marine reserve to provide desperately needed protection for Biscayne’s threatened coral reef ecosystem and marine wildlife. Habitat for threatened species such as elkhorn and staghorn coral, reef fish, and sea turtles will be greatly impacted if Biscayne National Park is unable to create a protective marine reserve.
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Senior Managing Director of Conservation Programs