Pew, something smells. No, I'm not talking about the Pew Charitable Trusts, I'm talking about the opposition to the Marine Monument proposed for the waters around the Northern Islands of Asuncion, Maug and Uracas.
Now Gov. Benigno R. Fitial has joined the fray, asking President Bush to reject the proposal (Ahem, I think he means if a proposal is submitted). Hands down. No discussion necessary.
According to the Saipan Tribune “The governor argued that the Commonwealth is looking at fishery as an economic growth engine to replace the declining garment and tourism industries.”
I guess I missed that meeting, but I'm sure there will be public discussion. Later. Maybe that's why he refused to even meet with Pew, reportedly giving them five minutes notice: 'I've got visitors', or something like that. Kind of rude, but that's just me.
“We rely on fishing as a source of food and jobs,” Fitial wrote. True enough, but from those islands? That's why I've been hoarding my two cents worth about the proposal; I've been waiting for local fishermen to state their case. On the face of it, that's too far north and too expensive to fish, but I could be wrong.
Large scale commercial fishing? Maybe, I don't know. What's up there? Sorry, I haven't caught Angelo Villagomez' road show, but I've heard Pew doesn't have much information yet. I can't afford to hire John Gourley to give me his estimates.
I'm not opposed to fishing (I love canned tuna, and I'm too old to get pregnant), but I don't see any local economic benefit. No local fees, because fishing in those waters is controlled by the Federal Government. That kind of undercuts the anti-federalization argument, doesn't it?
Luen Thai, the largest company with local connections I'm aware of, does its trans-shipping out of Guam. No jobs for us there. Other companies tried, and failed, on Tinian years ago.
Back to the future
Maybe the plan involves canneries. Sorry, those factory ships sail off to China or Thailand*. Because of cheap labor. That industry is hurting on American Samoa, and their “Special Industry Wage” is a big reason they joined us in being blessed by federal Minimum Wage legislation.
Of course Saipan has plenty of power and water for canneries, but the nineties are over. The days of imported minimum wage labor are over.
So where are these jobs coming from?
Willam McCue's catch-and-release argument is more nonsense. Those 100 jobs he invented are a pipe dream. Again, it's too far north. Maybe the diesel fumes have gotten to him.
I've seen personal attacks on Pew and Angelo, but precious little solid argument. The whole 'federalization' thing is a (pardon me) red herring, sheer demagoguery meant to shut down all critical thinking. 'Outsiders' in the federal government are making those decisions now. The submerged land issue was fought, and lost. It's time to get out of the nineties and quit wasting money on more litigation.
Any agreement on the monument would be negotiated between the U.S. and the CNMI. It's nonsense, and more demagoguery, to say Pew is going to decide anything for us.
So where's all of this local opposition I keep reading about? The Letters to the Editor have been overwhelmingly supportive. And no, Mr. Gourley, four letters do not count as four people.
* I've read that Norwegian cod are shipped to China and then re-exported to Norway.
NB: Saipan Writer had a similar reaction to the letter. More anger and less sarcasm in Please Make It Stop