Congressman Don Young (R-Alaska) and Congressman Walter B. Jones (R-North Carolina) have cosponsored a bill to prevent President Barack Obama, or any future president, from unilaterally designating offshore areas as "national monuments" and restricting the public's ability to fish there. The Marine Access and State Transparency (MAST) Act would require a president to get the approval of Congress and the legislature of each state within 100 nautical miles of the monument before any "monument" designation could take effect.
The bill comes in response to increasing speculation that President Obama may follow the example of his predecessor George W. Bush and unilaterally designate large swaths of coastal America as "national monuments." In 2006, President Bush short-circuited the established process of public consultation and input and unilaterally designated 84 million acres off the coast of the Northwest Hawaiian Islands as a national monument. The new monument, which is larger than 46 of America's 50 states, was then closed to fishing.
"Presidents from both parties have abused their monument designation authority for far too long," said Congressman Jones. "No president should be allowed to just lock up millions of acres of fishing grounds by fiat, with no public input whatsoever. Frankly, it's un-American, and it must be stopped. I am proud to be the first member of Congress to join my friend Don Young in fighting for this legislation, and I urge the rest of my colleagues to get behind it."