22 Oct 2008

CNMI says national marine will undermine sovereignty of indigenous people

11:14 am on 22 October 2008

The spokesman for the governor of CNMI says George Bush's bid to establish a national marine around CNMI's northern islands will undermine the sovereignty of it's indigenous people.

The Bush administration is proposing to preserve 115 thousand square miles of ocean encompassing three islands of the Northern Marianas.

The plan for the monument in it's current form would entail a no-catch zone and no mining activities in those areas.

Charles Reyes, the spokesman for Governor Benigno Fitial, says there's talk about restricting the area for hundreds of years and it's unclear what the economic benefits will be nor is it clear what the locals will have to forego.

"A lot of local people here, the indigenous people, they speak of indigenous rights, cultural rights, the rights of their cultural heritage to the waters which they have managed and used for centuries. They are concerned about having the federal government come in and prevent them from practising their cultural rights or denying them access to the waters for example. There are issues of cultures of self-determination of local self-government, of sovereignty."

Charles Reyes, the spokesman for Governor Benigno Fitial.