Jan 28 2021

Seafood Industry Reacts to Biden’s Climate Crisis Executive Order

January 28, 2021

White House in Washington DC

Photo Credit: YevgeniyM/iStock/Getty Images Plus

On Wednesday, President Joe Biden signed an executive order focused on “Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad.

The order’s focus on science and addressing climate change was applauded by many in the industry. However, concerns over being included in some of the decision-making processes that will follow the order was a theme in reactions from industry associations and organizations.

National Fisheries Institute (NFI) President John Connelly wrote in a statement, “[NFI] welcomes the Administration’s early focus on fisheries. We are prepared to work with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and others to ensure the right programs are put in place.”

“Engaging stakeholders and researchers early is essential to ensuring seafood science, not slogans, drives sustainability initiatives. The health of both our nation’s seafood stocks and the communities that rely on them is vital to the success of any initiative. Efforts to implement broad restrictions should take into account the existing restrictions put in place by fisheries management councils,” Connelly concluded.

Overall, the administration’s focus on solving the issue of climate change was met positively.

“We applaud President Biden for recognizing the critical need for meaningful stakeholder engagement in fulfilling his campaign promise to conserve 30 percent of our lands and waters by 2030. Explicitly naming fishermen as a stakeholder group clearly acknowledges our role in ensuring healthy oceans systems and providing the lowest carbon footprint protein to the American people,” Leigh Habegger, Executive Director, Seafood Harvesters of America said in a statement.

“Alaskan fishermen expressed a combination of relief and optimism as the Biden Administration released its federal plan to address climate change. Having long been aware of the need to address a rapidly changing climate. Climate change is among Alaskan fishermen’s top concerns according to a 2020 survey of more than 750 fishermen,” a press release from the Salmon Habitat Information Program read.

Many organizations are questioning the ‘30×30’ provision, which calls for at least 30% of the country’s lands and waters be preserved.

“The order commits to the goal of conserving at least 30 percent of our lands and oceans by 2030 and launches a process for stakeholder engagement from agricultural and forest landowners, fishermen, Tribes, States, Territories, local officials, and others to identify strategies that will result in broad participation,” the statement from the White House reads.

The provision, which was included in the “Ocean-Based Climate Solutions Act,” introduced by Representative Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) last October was met with swift reaction from the seafood industry with 800 members sending a letter to Grijalva citing concerns about the plan.

“Conserving 30 percent of our lands and waters by 2030 is a big deal and we must get it right if it is to be effective. If this initiative is guided by no more than simply what feels good or sounds catchy, we will not get it right. Much like the Magnuson-Stevens Act, so too must this initiative be rooted in science if it is to be a global gold standard. ‘30×30’ must be science-based, transparent, and stakeholder-driven, while having a watchful eye for fairness, equity, and societal betterment. Our oceans are changing rapidly and we must confront that head on. However, we must allow for science to guide us, not politics,” Christopher Brown, President, Seafood Harvesters of America and 2016 White House Champion of Change for Sustainable Fisheries said in a statement.

In regard to the ‘30×30’ provision, the Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association (ALFA) wrote:

“Unlike emissions reductions or transitioning to renewable energy, marine protected areas that exclude fishing communities do not address climate change, and in many cases may exacerbate it by weakening local food systems and increasing emissions in the seafood supply chain. Over the past six months, ALFA has been a leading voice as the commercial fishing industry united in calls to be included in decision making around the 30×30 campaign. Today’s actions signal that the administration is listening, and we thank them.”

The Responsible Offshore Development Alliance (RODA) shared its thoughts on the EO’s focus on offshore wind development in the country.

RODA wrote:

“The Administration has made clear its commitment to address climate change, which is a matter of critical importance to seafood harvesters adapting to the effects of ecosystem changes every day. The rapid advancement of large offshore wind energy facilities to meet climate goals places our nation at the dawn of a new era of ocean industrialization. While mitigating carbon emissions is urgent and necessary, so is protecting and prioritizing domestic sourcing of sustainable, affordable, and healthy protein. This necessitates evaluating the most efficient means of reducing atmospheric carbon while minimizing impacts to biodiversity and the economy.

Fishing communities stand ready and willing to incorporate their unique expertise in the country’s transition to renewable energy but there must be meaningful ways for them to do so. Three key topics must be addressed to ensure responsible planning for the unprecedented demands that are anticipated to be placed on our oceans.”

The three key topics RODA highlighted were: (1) Improving regional research efforts and scientific understanding of offshore infrastructure projects; (2) Enhanced interstate coordination and a clear delineation of authorities within federal agencies; (3) Facilitation of industry to industry cooperation.


 Posted with permission of Seafood News. Subscribe to SeafoodNews.com

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