Murkowski “Deeply Concerned” About President’s Ocean Waters Block

Senator Responds to Obama Action, Reasserts Need for Congressional Input

In an action called a “unilateral move” to cordon off more than 300,000 square miles in the Pacific Ocean from commercial activity, President Obama today designated a large portion of the area off limits through executive action.  Senator Lisa Murkowski shared her response:

 "I am deeply concerned that this Administration has proceeded with the use of the Antiquities Act to block off an additional 350,000 square miles in the Pacific Ocean.  Having heard from commercial fishermen and territorial representatives in the region who will be harmed economically by this unilateral action, I know there is real frustration when with the stroke of a pen their concerns are disregarded.  Alaskans know full well the adverse economic consequences resulting from such sweeping federal actions, and this is a stark reminder why I am championing legislation to require Congressional consent and meaningful consultation with coastal states whenever the Antiquities Act is invoked."

In July, Senator Murkowski introduced the Improved National Monument Designation Process Act (S. 2608), requiring congressional approval of any new national monument designation considered by the President.  The bill would block the Obama Administration from unilaterally using the Antiquities Act to lock up millions of acres of public lands and waters.

Praise for S. 2608:

“Federal fisheries management in waters off Alaska is successful because it is science-based and because conservation measures are developed through a transparent public process that encourages stakeholder engagement,” says Stephanie Madsen of the At-Sea Processors Association.  “Management actions, including area closures designed to meet different conservation objectives, are not issued by fiat.  We applaud Senator Murkowski for updating the 100-year old Antiquities Act to reflect current best practices for open, participatory government.”

“We applaud Senator Murkowski’s leadership in introducing legislation that places reasonable limits on the President's power to make far reaching conservation land withdrawals in all 50 states, both onshore and off,” said Rick Rogers, Executive Director of the Resource Development Council for Alaska.

“United Fishermen of Alaska is pleased to hear of Senator Murkowski’s legislation to require Congressional approval of any National Monument designation. Decisions regarding closing our oceans should be made carefully, and UFA applauds Senator Murkowski’s efforts to ensure that the impacts to stakeholders are thoroughly considered in a public process,” said Julianne Curry, Executive Director, United Fishermen of Alaska.

“The fisheries off Alaska's coast are highly complex, involving multiple species, vast fishing grounds, and different fishing gear. The Magnuson-Stevens Act provides an open, public process for stakeholders to help in the development of conservation measures that protect our fishery resources and the marine environment. On the other hand, decisions under the Antiquities Act are made behind closed doors. Closing off areas of Alaska's fisheries could devastate Alaska's fishing communities, so we believe Congress needs to be part of the decision-making process,” said Joe Plesha, General Counsel, Trident Seafoods