Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Request for Inclusion of indigenous peoples and Tribes in Federal Ocean Policy

December 10, 2010

Disclaimer: This document is prepared by Center for Water Advocacy and Alaska’s Big Village Network for Alaska’s indigenous peoples, Traditional Councils and Alaska Tribal Governments to be included in the process leading to policy decisions that impacts our future generations.------------------------------------------------------------------------

Honorable Secretaries of the United States Departments of Commerce, Interior, Defense, and Homeland Security:

Request for Inclusion
Ocean Policy funding: Regional Ocean Partnership development.
Re: Grant Notice of Federal Funding Opportunity; Number NOAA-NOS-CSC-2011-2002721 posted September 16, 2010; CFDA Number: 11.473; offered by the Department of Commerce

Thank you for your commitment to protect our vital water and ocean resources, ecosystems and peoples.

Alaska's Big Village Network offers this letter to Tribal Governments, indigenous peoples and tribal communities in all coastal regions of the United States; particulary in Alaska and the Arctic; whom have co-existed with all elements of the Earth since time immemorial.

The ocean is critical to all human beings on Earth and is important locally, nationally and internationally for the future freedoms of all peoples, especially Arctic inhabitants. As indigenous stewards of the oceans for tens of thousands of years, traditional and modern Tribal governments and tribal communities must be included in NOAA's Regional Ocean Partnership Funding Programs (ROPFP); particularly, as vital indigenous science and traditional ecological knowledge is critical in the Areas of Special Emphasis as identified in the Ocean Policy Task Force July 2010 final report. The ROPFP must also be directed to support and assist tribal governance and tribal community planning objectives in the Coastal and Marine Spatial Planning framework to become active partners in the Alaska Regional Ocean Partnership.

Alaska Tribal Governments and Alaskan tribal communities are necessary and essential to address coordination and collaboration for the profound global matters facing our ocean and to build capacity for the peace and security of mankind. The indigenous peoples of the Arctic have traditional cultural resiliency and adaptation methods that can reduce long-term cost of implementing national climate adaptation strategies; and the Arctic indigenous peoples can perpetuate protection, conservation and management of Large Marine Ecosystems beyond Arctic/Alaska boundaries of the CSMP area. The historic use of cultural resources, inter-disciplinary indigenous science, traditional ecological knowledge, customary and traditional and modern life ways of hunting, fishing, gathering, commerce, and navigation are critical to the interest of the Nation and our maritime heritage.

As witnesses to the significant harm to health of humans and much of the living creatures of Prince William Sound; and ongoing deaths and cascading environmental decline from Exxon Valdez Oil Spill in the Gulf of Alaska in 1989, it is critically important to involve all communities in every process of industrial activities in our oceans. We continue to support implementing the precautionary principle in a comprehensive ocean policy within the CSMP framework. Not only are the communities the first responders to international and local disasters, but they are integral to the stewardship of all resources for future generations. Indigenous Peoples and tribal communities in the Arctic are disproportionately impacted by industrial activities in the Gulf of Alaska, Bering Sea, Chukchi Sea and Beaufort Sea. Please refer to a recent Department of Interior Minerals Management Service OCS study: “Three Decades of Research on Socioeconomic Effects Related to Offshore Petroleum Development in Coastal Alaska.”

Food Security is essential for Arctic/Alaska indigenous peoples, economic sustainability, and national interest. The living resources and biodiversity of the Arctic/Alaska region (fisheries, marine mammals, peoples, flora and fauna) are of paramount to indigenous science, culture, and identity.

Ecosystem Based Management with maximum Tribal participation in planning will break the frontiers of interdisciplinary science and community based participatory research to provide communities with tools to protect our oceans, coasts and inland waters. The indigenous peoples who have inhabited the Arctic since time immemorial carry the wisdom and expertise to maintain, protect and honor the integrity of the ecosystems to provide customary and traditional and commercial resources today. Historically, the indigenous maritime heritage of the Alaska/Arctic area allowed forefathers of the United States to conduct international trade and commerce.

We support indigenous peoples’ Traditional Ecological Knowledge as best available science. Traditional Ecological Knowledge is an important foundational element in the ecosystem-based management principle for all planning efforts. Indigenous Science is an important pillar for resilient coastal communities that can adapt to impacts of hazards in climate change.

We support local, national, and international efforts to improve the structure of the policy coordination of the National Ocean Council. Due to the cultural and economic significance of fisheries, marine mammals, and birds; as well as the geographic size of Alaska’s coastline and oceans, we ask that you increase participation of Alaska's Tribal Governments in the National Ocean Council. We strongly support education and training initiatives for Alaska Tribal Governments and Arctic communities in National Policy.

Coastal Zone Management

Pursuant to the Coastal Zone Management Act of 1972 (16 USC 1482) (CZMA), Federal agencies have a government-to-government responsibility to consult with federally recognized Indian Tribes in areas where the CZMA is in effect. Although, the CZMA facilitates consultation by State Historic Preservation Officers (SHPOs) in the exercise of their responsibilities pursuant to the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA), and the Archaeological Resource Protection Act (ARPA) including in matters that are protective of historic properties, it does not include consultation with Tribes and their Tribal Historic Preservation Officers (THPOs) or, otherwise, provide significant protection to tribes.

Although, in 1992, the NHPA was amended to include tribes, the CZMA does not address the legal rights or concerns of tribes regarding historic properties and the CZMA has not been updated to be compliant with the Presidential Memoranda and Executive Orders that mandate federal governmental agencies to conduct meaningful tribal consultation in support of the government to government relationship. Annually, for federal consistency, federal agencies have a duty to examine the implementation of the CZMA. The Task Force should therefore call on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA fisheries) and other federal fisheries agencies to establish meaningful tribal consultation as an integral component of their implementation of the CZMA and become wholly compliant with the consultation process.

Executive Orders:

It is mandatory that standing Executive Orders to be followed by federal agencies to fairly include federally recognized tribes and tribal communities in the Arctic/Alaska region and in all other planning regions when funding Coastal and Marine Spatial Planning.

Executive Order--Stewardship of the Ocean, Our Coasts, and the Great Lakes (July 19, 2010)
Executive Order 13175-- Consultation and Coordination with Indian Tribal Governments
Executive Order 12898- Environmental Justice

Federal Trust Obligation

The national ocean policy must implement significant and meaningful consultation with tribal governments and tribal communities in the protection of ocean and coastal resources including water rights, sustainable land practices, and management actions, development of watershed management plans and establishment of watershed management councils. Too often federal agencies fail to provide for consultation and partnership with tribes who are impacted by federal and state agency management actions regarding ocean and coastal resources.

The Ocean Policy should be consistent with Section 1B of President Obama’s Directive of June 12, 2009 which created the Task Force and which states that “The framework should also address specific recommendations to improve coordination and collaboration among Federal, State, Tribal, and local authorities, including regional governance structures.”

We support the protection of Arctic Indigenous Peoples cultural and subsistence resources in all oceans. We support international collaborations to maintain the integrity of migratory animal treaties for customary and traditional use. We support development of Arctic cultural and situational policy frameworks to address resiliency and adaptation to major climate change matters facing planet Earth.

The indigenous inhabitants of the Arctic/Alaska region and their traditional and modern governments must be included at every level of planning and management by the National Ocean Commission; and must be included for full funding in Marine Spatial Planning and inclusion in Regional Ocean Partnerships for the Arctic/Alaska planning region.

Indigenous Peoples and Tribal Communities are essential to Coastal and Marine Spatial Planning efforts.

“Data and model products have no value unless they are used. They can only be used if they can be easily discovered, acquired and understood in a timely manner to those who wish to apply them to practical issues such as flood forecasting, water availability modeling, and ecological flows, as inputs to decision-making. The communication and delivery of data and information to such end users is back-bone to a beneficial integrated system.” Page 190: Integrating Multiscale Observations of U.S. Waters by National Research Council of the National Academies; 2008.