Jan 29 2021

PCFFA Statement on President Biden’s Executive Order on Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad

San Francisco, Calif. — January 28, 2021 –

On January 27, President Biden announced executive action to address the climate crisis.  The Executive Order on Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad (E.O.) is wide ranging and includes many beneficial programs and policies.  Two policies, however, are of concern as they have the ability to unnecessarily impact the U.S. fishing industry unless implemented in a collaborative, inclusive, and equitable manner.

30 x 30 initiative

The Ocean-Based Climate Solutions Act, introduced during the last months of the 116th Congress, proposed to “prohibit any commercial extractive or destructive human activity in at least 30 percent of the ocean under United States jurisdiction by 2030”. In the preceding and ensuing weeks, the fishing industry united in its opposition to no-take marine protected areas as a component of national ocean conservation campaigns and insisted on being part of the process.

Yesterday’s order indicates that the Administration has accepted these terms and is inviting fishing communities to the table. We applaud President Biden’s acknowledgement of the contributions and importance of the nation’s fishing industry.  Rather than a prescriptive top-down mandate, the E.O. calls for a process designed to achieve the goal of “conserving at least 30 percent of our lands and waters by 2030.”  Notably, this process requires engagement with fishermen throughout. We thank the Administration for listening to our concerns and agreeing that we have valuable contributions and insights.  We are on the water every day, we are seeing, experiencing, and adapting to a changing climate – in real time, and we have valuable insight to share.

“Conservation” is a value that U.S. fishermen have cherished for generations and depend on looking towards the future.  U.S. fishermen fight harder for fishery conservation than virtually any other group, without compromise: without it, we have no fishing communities.  For us, it is personal, and our livelihoods and the food security of all Americans depend on it.

Our industry’s future is wholly dependent on the conservation of our marine resources and the health of our ocean ecosystems.  The Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA) is the primary law governing marine fisheries management in the U.S; and a worldwide model for a public, science-driven ocean governance process.  Principles of resource, habitat and ecosystem conservation are deeply embedded in the MSA and have resulted in stakeholder-driven Fishery Management Councils establishing numerous protections and conservation measures in the oceans under U.S. jurisdiction. For example, under Council leadership, we have already prohibited bottom trawling in over 76% of US waters, the most comprehensive ocean conservation program in the country by far. Through hard work, strong science, and meaningful stakeholder participation we have achieved healthy, sustainable fisheries that all Americans can be proud of, managed using regulatory systems that result in meaningful and lasting ocean conservation. We should use these tools and integrate the achievements we’ve already made using them, rather than cast them aside.

Renewable Energy in Offshore Waters

We, and others similarly situated, have been vocal critics of how offshore energy siting and permitting decisions have been made and the absence of any planned actions to improve them.  Section 207 requires the Secretary of the Interior to “review siting and permitting processes * * * in offshore waters to identify * * * steps that can be taken * * * to increase renewable energy production * * * in those waters, with the goal of doubling offshore wind by 2030 while ensuring robust protection for our lands, waters, and biodiversity and creating good jobs.”  This review requires consultation with “other interested parties”.  Through, and with, our partners we expect to be granted “other interested party” status to inform this important process.  To date, the fishing industry has not been invited to the table in offshore energy siting discussions. In effect, we are on the menu. The fishing industry is still coming to terms with being forced to share its beating heart/workplace with a new activity – especially one that has not reached out to industry in an effort to determine locations which would have minimal impacts; one that has unknown impacts on fish stocks, protected species, sea birds and the larger marine ecosystem and environment; and one that promises jobs and economic revitalization, but at what true cost.

We are hopeful the review required by the order will sufficiently detail the potential harms of the industrialization of the ocean by offshore energy developers to the marine environment and biodiversity, and our ability to feed the nation, for which “robust protection[s]” can be discussed, analyzed and applied.  The need is based on offshore renewables being integral to meeting carbon emission goals.  We hope the review will consider whether such facilities are actually necessary to meet those goals; which requires identification of increases in emissions and other negative climate/environment impacts along the planning, construction, installation, maintenance and decommissioning phases of each Project.  The ability to create good jobs is predicated on economic viability of individual projects.  We hope the review will require future applicants to submit detailed documentation on all economic costs and benefits to those harmed by the project(s) and those who will benefit from the project(s).

Environmental and Economic Justice

Section 219 requires consideration of environmental and economic justice while governing.  Access to nature and natural resources is one of the underappreciated issues related to environmental justice.  U.S. harvested seafood is a healthy and affordable source of protein, and supports tens of thousands of jobs, particularly in rural coastal areas where economic options are limited.  For a large percentage of Americans, the only meaningful access to the living marine resources in our oceans is via the seafood we harvest.  We must not lose sight of this as we take actions in furtherance of the E.O.’s goals.

PCFFA is committed to working with the Biden Administration and other Stakeholders in carrying out the visions of the Executive Order.

About PCFFA
The Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations is the largest commercial fishermen’s organization on the West Coast, representing 17 local and regional fishermen’s associations from Santa Barbara to Southeast Alaska. As a major commercial fishing industry trade association, PCFFA represents the interests of commercial fishing families who make their living harvesting and delivering high-quality seafood to America’s tables.
 
Media contacts:
Mike Conroy, PCFFA executive director: (415) 638-9730 • mike@ifrfish.org

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