Nasion Chamoru wants answers in regards to fishing rights - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Nasion Chamoru wants answers in regards to fishing rights

by Jolene Toves

Guam - Nasion Chamoru asks why the indigenous fishing rights are being held captive.  The human rights organization wants answers as to why there has been a significant delay in the implementation of the Indigenous Fishing Rights Program.

Earlier this week Maga Lahi Nasion Danny Jackson sent a letter to Governor Eddie Calvo pleading that his office review the proposed rules and regulations set forth by the Department of Agriculture. It was in 2008 that the law was enacted allowing Chamorros special rights to offshore fishing. However six years later and still nothing has been finalized.

So what's the holdup? We spoke with Department of Agriculture's Division of Aquatic and Wildlife Resources assistant chief Jay Gutierrez, who said, "The department has gone through many versions we are currently on Version 21 of the actual regulations there have been some I guess I'm going to say issues but concerns."

More specifically, Gutierrez says they are still working on the concept of the culturally managed areas which will be designated in non marine preserves. In these designated areas fishermen will be able to use talaya nets and rod and reel not drag nets. "What we have in the regulations involves establishing cultural managed areas and may not be what some of the groups we met with wanted," he said.

The division's chief Tino Agoun says they are trying to stay away from marine preserves so that the integrity of the preserve is not lost.  "What we tried to do is develop it in such a way that we were benefiting the protection of the resources as well as allowing for some take in some degree so that's where a lot of it has actually came to a standstill," he said.

Aguon says that while many of the issues have resolved itself there is still one prevailing issue with the law itself - that being those who may consider the law discriminate. "And all of our funding on our end as far as federal aid all hinges around US anti-discrimination issues," he explained.

Aguon says the discrimination between non-indigenous and indigenous people could affect the department's funding. Until those issues can be addressed the finalization of the rules and regulations remains on hold. 

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