Natural Resources Committee Adopts Bordallo Amendments to Protect Traditional Fishing
Today, the House Natural Resources Committee passed four amendments sponsored by Congresswoman Madeleine Z. Bordallo that would enshrine federal protections for traditional fishing and cultural practices on Guam and other Pacific Islands, support science-driven fisheries management, and extend the National Volcano Early Warning and Monitoring System to include the Marianas.
The Congresswoman’s amendments were adopted unanimously during the Committee’s consideration of legislation to reauthorize the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the federal law governing all fisheries in the United States. Congresswoman Bordallo is a senior Democratic member of the House Natural Resources Committee and former chair of the fisheries subcommittee.
Congresswoman Bordallo’s amendments were developed at the request of the Guam Fishermen’s Cooperative Association and the fishing community of Guam. The Bordallo amendments would codify in federal law:
- Additional protections for subsistence fishing, including cultural and traditional practices among Pacific Islanders like exchanging freshly caught seafood among family and friends. This amendment is intended to help ensure that federal regulations for commercial fishing are not applied to subsistence fishing, which is impractical for small-scale fishermen.
- The inherent cultural value of responsibly managed fisheries to Guam and the United States at large, and the important role fishing plays for traditional ways of life on Guam and other Pacific Islands. Current federal law only recognizes the commercial value of healthy fisheries.
- Guarantee that federal fishery experts and managers at NOAA Fisheries and the WPRFMC will continue to determine what the “best scientific information available” is and make expert judgments based on that science.
“Our fishermen rely on healthy fisheries for their livelihoods,” said Congresswoman Bordallo. “My amendments would recognize in federal law traditional fishing practices on Guam and throughout the Pacific. I thank my colleagues on the Committee for their bipartisan support for my amendments. I continue working in Congress to ensure that the federal government gives our fishermen the respect they deserve.”
“We thank Congresswoman Bordallo’s commitment to our Guam fishermen’s livelihoods and way of life. The Guam Fishermen’s Cooperative Association has counted on the Congresswoman as our advocate in the federal government, and we applaud her leadership today,” said Mr. Manny Duenas, president of the Guam Fishermen’s Cooperative Association.
“The Congresswoman has always worked to safeguard traditional and cultural fishing practices on Guam. As Guam’s representative on the Council, I thank her for advancing our fishermen’s interests in Congress today,” said Michael Duenas, vice-chair for Guam on the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council.
The Committee also unanimously adopted Congresswoman Bordallo’s amendment to the National Volcano Early Warning and Monitoring System Act. The Congresswoman’s amendment directs the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) to establish volcano observatories on Guam and other Pacific territories, if feasible. In partnership with territorial governments, these would be part of the USGS’s national network of volcano observatories and monitor volcanic threats in the Marianas and Asia-Pacific region, including underwater volcanic activity.
“I am also pleased the Committee adopted my amendment to include Guam in the National Volcano Early Warning and Monitoring System. Establishing a national volcano observatory to monitor activity in the Marianas will help to better safeguard Guam from volcanic activity linked to earthquakes, rogue waves, and tsunamis,” added Congresswoman Bordallo.