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Conservationist call on NOAA to fully implement fishing ban

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Feb. 29, 2012) – A U.S. federal agency says commercial fishing has been detected within three U.S. marine sanctuaries in the central Pacific.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA, has been accused of dragging its feet over implementing rules and fines for illegal fishing within the areas, declared National Marine Monuments three years ago.

A spokesperson for the agency, Wende Goo, says the monuments are monitored and enforcement action is taken based on the circumstances in each event.

William Chandler of the Marine Conservation Institute says his organization wants to find out how many boats are involved.

"We don’t have a public picture of the amount of illegal fishing of the number of boats that are seen in these areas potentially fishing right now, so that is a public accountability problem in my view."

William Chandler says the federal authorities have sixty days to respond to his group’s petition calling for action on full implementation of the commercial fishing ban.

He says legal action is also an option for the group.

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