Archive for the Legislation Category

Aug 8 2019

California Wetfish Producers Association Files to Intervene in Oceana Anchovy Lawsuit

August 8, 2019 — The following was released by the California Wetfish Producers Association:

The California Wetfish Producers Association (CWPA) has filed to intervene in a lawsuit filed by environmental group Oceana over California’s northern anchovy fishery. The filing will allow CWPA to participate in the lawsuit to protect the interests of California fishermen and processors who would face significant economic harm if the lawsuit were successful.

The lawsuit alleges that the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) must set stricter limits on the northern anchovy catch. As the result of a recent Oceana lawsuit, where the Court required NMFS to revise its catch rule, the catch limit is currently set at 23,573 metric tons, which, according to NMFS estimates, is only 25 percent of the stock’s overfishing level.

Not only are additional restrictions on the anchovy harvest unnecessary, but greater cuts would result in significant job loss and economic hardship for California’s wetfish industry and coastal communities.

“If [Oceana] prevails in this case, there could be a drastic reduction from current harvest levels,” said CWPA in its filing. “Such a reduction in harvest opportunity will seriously and irreparably harm CWPA members and the wetfish industry.”

Anchovy fishing off the California coast

 

This would affect not just California wetfish fishermen, who rely on anchovy when other species, like squid or mackerel, are unavailable, but also the processors, distributors, and seaside businesses who rely on a consistent catch. If lower catch limits are approved, the jobs of at least 400 CWPA members alone will be at risk, as well as many thousands more in related industries.

“Fishermen up and down the California coast are facing threats to their livelihoods from this frivolous and unnecessary lawsuit,” said Diane Pleschner-Steele, executive director of CWPA. “We are asking to be involved in this lawsuit to ensure that the Court also considers the needs and concerns of our members and California’s coastal communities. Our fishery management policy mandates balance between protecting the ocean and sustaining fishing communities ”

The sharply reduced catch limits that Oceana seeks are not scientifically justified. The basis for Oceana’s case is a single, flawed study that significantly underestimated the size of the anchovy population, in 2015, leading to the first Court decision, That study excluded  the abundance of anchovy in inshore areas, for example. Cooperative surveys that CWPA has conducted with the Southwest Fisheries Science Center and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife  have documented tens of thousands of tons of anchovies in these areas that have simply not been counted in stock assessments. . This finding contradicts the argument that the anchovy population was dangerously low, and that the already precautionary catch levels must be reduced further.

“The best available science does not support Oceana’s position,” said Ms. Pleschner-Steele. “ The Court needs to allow NMFS to set appropriate catch limits based on sound science.”

May 14 2019

These Days, It’s Not About the Polar Bears

Polar bears feeding on garbage in Belushya Guba, on the Novaya Zemlya archipelago in northern Russia. Shrinking habitats has forced more bears to wander into town for food. Alexander Grir/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

 

By Benjamin Ryan  May 12, 2019

Climate science has struggled mightily with a messaging problem.

The well-worn tactic of hitting people over the head with scary climate change facts has proved inadequate at changing behavior or policies in ways big enough to alter the course of global warming.

While Europe has made some headway, the largest obstacles to change remain in the United States, which has historically been responsible for more emissions than any other country. And perhaps most important, climate change denial has secured a perch in the Trump administration and across the Republican Party.

Enter the fast-growing academic field of climate change communication. Across a swath of mostly Western nations, social scientists in fields like psychology, political science, sociology and communications studies have produced an expansive volume of peer-reviewed papers — more than 1,000 annually since 2014 — in an effort to cultivate more effective methods for getting the global warming message across and inspiring action.

While recent polls have shown an increase in the percentage of people who describe themselves as worried about climate change, experts say not enough people have been motivated to act.  “The main reason people reject the science of climate change is because they reject what they perceive to be the solutions: total government control, loss of personal liberties, destruction of the economy,” said Katharine Hayhoe, director of the Climate Science Center at Texas Tech University.  “But ironically, what motivates people to care and to act is an awareness of the genuine solutions: a new clean-energy future, improving our standard of living, and building local jobs and the local economy.”

Schoolchildren taking part in a student climate protest in London in March. Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images

Social-science investigators have found that the most effective tools for engaging the public in the subject of climate change are those that appeal to core human tendencies. For example, people tend to focus on personal and local problems happening now, which means talk of the last remaining polar bears stranded on shrinking icebergs, far from most people, is out.

The best climate-related appeals are not a collection of statistics, but those that target people’s affinity for compelling stories. They also work best if they avoid fear-based messaging (which can cause a head-in-the-sand effect) and provide a sense that individuals can affect the environment in a personal and positive way — by updating to energy-efficient appliances, for example, or eating less meat, given meat production’s heavy carbon footprint.

But these efforts at persuasion are up against a well-financed opposition.  In the United States from 2000 to 2016, major carbon-emitting industries spent more than $1.35 billion lobbying members of Congress on climate change legislation. They outspent environmental groups and renewable energy companies by 10 to 1, according to a paper last year in the journal Climate Change by Robert J. Brulle, an environmental sociologist at Drexel University in Philadelphia.

A 2015 paper by Bruce Tranter, a sociologist at the University of Tasmania, analyzed 14 Western nations and identified an association between a country’s per capita carbon footprint and the prevalence of climate science skepticism among its citizens.  And in a recent study published in Nature Climate Change, Matthew J. Hornsey, a social psychologist at the University of Queensland, found that nations that had the strongest relationship between political conservatism and climate science skepticism tended to be those with economies more highly dependent on the fossil fuel industry, including the United States, Australia, Canada and Brazil.

At the vanguard of the social-science-based response to such doubt is a pair of centers for climate change communications research at George Mason University and Yale University.

An iceberg stranded near the village of Innaarsuit, in northwestern Greenland, in July. Karl Petersen/EPA, via Shutterstock

These research hubs just released new polling data indicating that 96 percent of liberal Democrats and 32 percent of conservative Republicans support the Green New Deal — a public-opinion gap that widened by 28 percentage points between December and April as awareness about the proposed legislation grew.

In 2009, the two climate labs produced the highly regarded “Six Americas” report, which identified six different groups of Americans who represented the range of public opinion on climate change.

On one end of the spectrum are the “alarmed,” who are the most certain, and most concerned, about human-driven global warming. They’re also the most motivated to act to protect the climate. On the other end of the spectrum are the “dismissives,” who, as their name suggests, are least likely to accept or care about climate change. Between the two polarities are “concerned,” “cautious,” “disengaged” and “doubtful.”   The report has been updated repeatedly since its release and is often used by climate communication researchers to tailor their efforts to each demographic.

One such operation is the nonprofit Climate Outreach, based in Oxford, England. It recently issued a handbook that uses social science research to help climate scientists become better public champions of their own work.  Climate Outreach has also tapped into research that has identified especially effective visual techniques for communicating about climate change.

The Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, 16, during the World Economic Forum annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, this January. Arnd Wiegmann/Reuters

For example, authentic photos of people actively engaged in global-warming mitigation — such as community members installing solar panels on a roof — are far more resonant than, say, images of politicians at the lectern of a climate conference. So Climate Outreach started Climate Visuals, an open library of research-tested, impactful images.

Major environmental organizations such as Greenpeace and the Sierra Club are also looking to social science to inform how they communicate about climate change, including their choice of imagery, as are federal agencies such as the National Aeronautics and SpaceAdministration (NASA) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration(NOAA), according to the agencies’ representatives.

Edward W. Maibach, director of George Mason University’s Center for Climate Change Communication, has recruited an ever-expanding army to speak about climate science to the masses. His research revealed that the public puts particularly high trust in local TV weathercasters and health care providers as sources about climate science. So over the past decade, Dr. Maibach’s team enlisted 625 on-air meteorologists to give newscasts that help viewers connect the dots between climate change and hometown weather.

Another member of the George Mason team, John Cook, is one of various global academics working with a teaching method known as “inoculation,” which is a preventive strategy grounded in the finding that it can be very difficult to extract misinformation once it has lodged in the brain.

Dr. Cook has designed a high school curriculum as well as a popular online course that presents students first with facts and then a myth about climate change; the students are then asked to resolve the conflict.  In Europe, Sander van der Linden, a social psychologist at the University of Cambridge, codesigned an inoculation-based online game with doctoral researcher Jon Roozenbeek.

The game was designed to help its hundreds of thousands of players become better consumers of climate-related information.  “We’re trying,” Dr. van der Linden said, “to help people help themselves and navigate this post-truth environment.”


A version of this article appears in print on May 12, 2019, on Page A11 in The International New York Times. Order Reprints

Original post:

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/12/climate/climate-solutions-polar-bears.html?action=click&module=MoreInSection&pgtype=Article&region=Footer&contentCollection=Climate%20and%20Environment

Feb 26 2019

Environmental Impact Displacement in Fisheries & Food

A recent policy perspective paper in Conservation Letters, Lewison et al. 2019 (open access), summarized several examples of environmental impact ‘displacement,’ an important policy concept with implications for fisheries and food.

Examples of environmental impact displacement

Environmental impact displacement is when a conservation policy designed to reduce impact in one area, displaces it to another area, sometimes making the overall problem worse. Researchers cite sea turtle bycatch in swordfish fisheries as an example of displacement in fisheries: U.S. Pacific swordfish fishing was curtailed to protect sea turtles caught as bycatch. However, lower U.S. catch increased foreign swordfish demand which ended up killing more sea turtles as foreign swordfish fisheries had higher rates of bycatch.

ProPublica and the New York Times recently published a long exposé about how a U.S. policy meant to reduce carbon emissions (by increasing biofuel use) raised demand for palm oil in Southeast Asia, which actually increased emissions and jumpstarted the palm oil/biodiversity crisis (this example is also cited in Lewison et al.).

The viral Ocean Cleanup Project is another example of environmental displacement; the crowdfunded campaign was trying to remove marine debris from the great Pacific garbage patch by sweeping a giant net-like object across the ocean. However, if it had worked as intended (it broke), it would have killed many more organisms than the trash it was trying to remove from the ocean.

Environmental displacement in fisheries & food

The concept of environmental impact displacement is important to consider in fisheries management and marine conservation. The swordfish case above is a good example of displacement in individual fisheries, but there are other areas of fishery management that should consider environmental impact displacement. For example, no-take marine protected areas often increase fishing pressure outside the area being protected, nullifying the protection. In some cases, displacing fishing pressure benefits the ecosystem, but often it does not.

Zooming out in scale raises larger systemic questions about food: Consider fisheries and marine conservation as part of a broader, global system of food and ecological preservation. A legitimate argument can be made that fulfilling fishery potential and consuming more seafood is good for the planet—it provides low-carbon, low-impact protein.

As the developing world continues to acquire wealth, global demand for animal-protein will continue to rise. The more seafood that is eaten in place of cow, the better, since bovine farming is the largest driver of rainforest and biodiversity loss on the planet. Not only is seafood the lowest-impact animal protein, several kinds of seafood (e.g. farmed bivalves and wild-caught pelagics) are among the lowest impact foods of any kind.

Solutions to environmental displacement

Lewison et al. 2019 outline ways to reduce environmental impact displacement that can be applied to fisheries management and global food systems. The first step, researchers state, is explicitly considering displacement in policy design, scoping, and evaluation. Fishery managers should evaluate and understand the biological, economic, and social outcomes of proposed policies to avoid issues like accidentally increasing turtle bycatch across the world or raising fishing pressure in an area surrounding an MPA.

Other ways to avoid displacement include:

  • Think large-scale to consider all economic/biological/social relationships
  • Enact both demand-side and supply-side policies
  • International trade agreements and cooperation as a holistic approach to global conservation

Conservation groups should consider the global food system and environmental impact displacement in their advocacy; policy makers and natural resource managers should consider environmental impact displacement in their decision-making processes. Conservation will be more effective with a larger, broad approach—particularly with fisheries and food. Lewison et al. 2019 is open access and available here.


Original post: https://sustainablefisheries-uw.org/environmental-impact-displacement/

Jan 23 2019

Oceana’s Anchovy Lawsuit Backfires, as Judge Asks NMFS to Update Science in Ruling Likely to Increase Catches

— Posted with permission of SEAFOODNEWS.COM. Please do not republish without their permission. —

Copyright © 2019 Seafoodnews.com

Seafood News


Photo: Lolly Knit, Flickr, Creative Commons

Oceana, an organization that is a frequent plaintiff against NMFS, thought they had a good case in 2016 when they filed suit against NMFS arguing that a 25,000 ton Central California anchovy allocation exceeded the entire stock, and should be overturned.

Their objective was to shut down the fishery based on an argument of flawed science.

Last week, federal district court  Judge Lucy Koh reaffirmed her 2018 decision that NMFS indeed did not use the best available science, and would need to do a reassessment on this stock.

With the government shutdown, it is not clear when NMFS might be able to respond to the ruling, but since then, the science on which Oceana argued its case has been drastically revised.

Oceana tried to argue that the anchovy stock had fallen to 15,000 to 32,000 ton, and that therefore a 25,000 ton allocation was excessive.

However, one of the scientists who authored that report submitted an updated estimate for the 2015 biomass of 92,000 tons, and using the same method would predict a 1.1 million metric ton biomass in 2017.

In short, the science was flawed, new data show the anchovy populations at record levels, and if NMFS uses the judge’s ruling to follow the best science, a much larger commercial fishery is in the offing.

Currently an anchovy working group from the Pacific Council is meeting without NMFS, and it may take some time to know how the ruling will be applied.

But, the lesson for Oceana is that suing for best available science is something the industry supports as well, and in the case of a dynamic stock like anchovy, it is very hard to get an accurate reading from a single year’s population study.

For that reason, some suggest the council move to a multi-year allocation which would better reflect the actual state of data collection, and avoid wild fluctuations based on possibly limited survey data.


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Jan 23 2019

Judge: NMFS must rewrite anchovy catch rule

Important to note, the “collapsed” anchovy assessment on which this court ruling was based was updated in November and submitted to the Pacific Fishery Management Council, which has been deliberating the anchovy issue. The original 15,000 mt estimated in 2015 was increased to 92,000 mt, and the 2017 population estimate came in at 1.1 million mt. The SWFSC also presented results of their latest Daily Egg Production study to the Council, noting that anchovy had returned to historic abundance. The judge did not receive this information before making her ruling.

It’s unclear how NMFS will respond now, in light of the ongoing government shutdown. The CPS management team met yesterday (without NMFS members present) to discuss how they might recommend a new OFL, ABC and ACL to the Council for the April Council meeting. The judge’s deadline for new reference points is April 18. NMFS/Department of Justice could request a stay, but an Oceana rep. at the management team meeting said they will oppose a stay because the Council and NMFS have had a year since the original ruling— and this shouldn’t be hard now, with the population at a million tons or more.

The April Council meeting should be lively!!

Diane Pleschner-Steele

 


 

Federal fishing regulators have until April 16 to rewrite a rule that sets annual catch limits (ACL) for commercial fishing of anchovy in federal waters off the northern coast of California, a judge has ruled.

The Jan. 18 order from federal judge Lucy Koh enforces a judgment in a lawsuit brought in 2016 by the environmental activist group Oceana against the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS).

Oceana’s lawsuit questioned the science that NMFS relied on in reaching a 2016 decision to set the ACL for northern California anchovy at 25,000 metric tons. The agency set that limit — even though landings typically only total less than a third of that, 7,300t — judging the stock’s maximum sustainable yield to be 123,000t, and calculating an acceptable biological catch of 100,000t. The ACL was set, conservatively, the agency said, at a fourth of that level.

However, after the 2016 rule was adopted, Oceana sued NMFS in federal court arguing that the rule violated principles established in the Magnuson-Stevens Act and another law, the Administrative Practices Act, because the agency failed “to articulate the scientific basis for this catch limit”.

In January 2018, judge Koh approved Oceana’s motion for summary judgment vacating the 25,000t ACL rule. NMFS had asked judge Koh to amend that judgment but in June 2018 she declined. NMFS, which is currently working on new assessments of the stock to inform future ACL decisions, has since appealed Koh’s ruling. Meanwhile, Koh, acting on a request from Oceana, ordered that the agency rewrite the rule.

NMFS objected, citing the pending assessments, but Koh was not moved.

“Moreover, the court is not convinced by defendants’ explanation for the delay. The Service need not wait for new data to promulgate an updated OFL [Overfishing Limit], ABC [Allowable Biological Catch], and ACL because the service need only use the best scientific information available,” she wrote.

Precipitous decline?

In its lawsuit, Oceana, claiming that the anchovy stock had “declined precipitously”, argued that NMFS hadn’t conducted a stock assessment for the species since 1995 and that the true size of the northern anchovy biomass averaged between 10,000t to 15,000t from the 2009 to 2011 period.

Speaking to Undercurrent in June 2018 about the ruling, Diane Pleschner-Steele, the executive director of the California Wetfish Producers Association, disagreed with the biomass estimates, but because the harvesters her group works with are seeing more anchovies, not fewer.

Pleschner-Steele said that her group worked in 2017 with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife to perform an aerial survey of anchovy stocks.

“The department’s plane flew along the coast inside the area that the NOAA acoustic trawl survey was transecting at the same time, and our spotter pilot estimated tonnage of the schools he observed,” she wrote.   “We documented tens of thousands of tons of coastal pelagic species — both sardine and anchovy —  that the NOAA cruise did not see or factor into its assessment because they survey largely offshore and don’t come into nearshore waters.   This is now recognized as a problem, and we’re hopeful that we can improve stock assessments over time.”

Contact the author jason.smith@undercurrentnews.com


Original post: https://www.undercurrentnews.com/

Sep 25 2018

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Declares Commercial Fishery Disasters for West Coast Salmon and Sardines

 

CWPA and California’s wetfish industry are deeply grateful to Secretary Ross and Assistant Administrator for Fisheries Chris Oliver, as well as to West Coast NMFS officials and Governor Brown, for acknowledging that our sardine fishery closure met the legal requirements for designation as a fishery resource disaster. This determination now makes our sardine fishery eligible for NMFS fishery disaster assistance. We look forward to learning the level of disaster assistance that the Department of Commerce will determine. The fact that relief is coming is very good news.

 

September 25, 2018

Determinations make these fisheries eligible for NOAA Fisheries fishery disaster assistance.

Today, Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross announced that commercial fishery failures occurred between 2015 and 2017 for salmon fisheries in Washington, Oregon, and California, in addition to the sardine fishery in California.

“The Department of Commerce and NOAA stand ready to assist fishing towns and cities along the West Coast as they recover,” said Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross. “After years of hardship, the Department looks forward to providing economic relief that will allow the fisheries and the communities they help support to rebound.”

Between July 2016 and March 2018, multiple tribes and governors from Washington, Oregon, and California requested fishery disaster determinations. The Secretary, working with NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), evaluated each request based on the available data, and found that all but one (the California red sea urchin fishery) met the requirements for a fishery disaster determination.

The determinations for West Coast salmon and sardines now make these fisheries eligible for NOAA Fisheries fishery disaster assistance.  The 2018 Consolidated Appropriations Act provided $20 million in NOAA Fisheries fishery disaster assistance. The Department of Commerce is determining the appropriate allocations of these funds to eligible fisheries.


Originally posted: https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/

Aug 21 2018

Senate MSA reauthorization a step back for fishing communities

Senate MSA reauthorization a step back for fishing communities
© Getty Images

 

In July, the House passed H.R. 200 the “Strengthening Fishing Communities and Increasing Flexibility in Fisheries Management Act,” a much needed update of federal fisheries law that allows for both sustainable fisheries management and the long-term preservation of our nation’s fishing communities. Unfortunately, its counterpart bill making its way through the Senate would likely have the opposite effect.

The Senate bill, S.1520, or the “Modernizing Recreational Fisheries Management Act of 2018,” introduces changes to the Magnuson-Stevens Act (MSA)—the main law governing U.S. fisheries—that would impose increasingly burdensome regulations on American fishermen and undermine H.R. 200’s goal of increasing flexibility in fisheries management.

Of particular concern are provisions contained in Section 104 of the bill, “Rebuilding Overfished Fisheries.“ Rather than giving fisheries managers more flexibility in how they manage and rebuild fish stocks, these new requirements added to S.1520 make rebuilding requirements more stringent and onerous.

For example, one of the most disturbing changes is the requirement that Regional Fishery Management Councils achieve a 75 percent chance of rebuilding a stock if that stock has not rebuilt in as short a timeframe as possible. What that means in practice is that regulators will be forced to set quotas according to a rigid, predetermined timeframe, rather than one based around scientific evidence or biological necessity. This will lead to quotas that are much lower than they need to be to sustainably manage the species, and fishing communities being unnecessarily hurt in the process.

In a similar vein, the bill also removes existing language from MSA that allows fisheries managers to alter rebuilding timeframes if a species is depleted or unable to recover due to “ecological” issues that are not related to fishing activity. This would prevent managers from modifying their plans to adapt to changing environmental conditions and other unforeseen circumstances.

Taken together, these changes would further force the Councils to manage species according to an arbitrary timetable, rather than thorough a plan that best takes into account prevailing biological and economic conditions. This will result in increased hardships for fishing communities, with little additional conservation benefits.

The bill also introduces new language on the issue of quota allocation between different fishery stakeholders in mixed-use fisheries. While this is already done routinely through the Council process, the bill adds “ecological” considerations to the policy of allocation, in addition to current consideration of economic and social factors. This is an obvious attempt to create allocation policy with the sole purpose of undermining commercial fisheries and altering allocations.

In addition, S.1520 does not include the same allocation language from H.R. 200, which would require that, when evaluating the full economic impact of commercial fisheries, managers consider the full seafood chain of custody. While this may sound like a minor change, this language is the only way to do a full and fair economic impact comparison study between commercial and recreational fisheries, and thus the only way to arrive at a fair allocation.

We are eager to support a reauthorization of MSA that maintains the strong fisheries management that has made American fisheries so successful over the past 40 years, while also allowing our fishing communities to remain economically vibrant. Unfortunately, in its current form, S.1520 meets neither of these goals.

Greg DiDomenico is the Executive Director of the Garden State Seafood Association. Diane Pleschner-Steele is Executive Director of the California Wetfish Producers Association.


Read the original post: http://thehill.com/blogs/congress-blog/energy-environment/402883-senate-msa-reauthorization-a-step-back-for-fishing

Aug 10 2018

Warming waters and migrating fish stocks could cause political conflict

Climate change is driving fish species to migrate to new areas, and in the process they’re crossing political boundaries – potentially setting up future conflicts as some countries lose access to fish and others gain it, according to a recent study published in the journal Science.

Already, fish and other marine animals have shifted toward the poles at an average rate of 70 kilometers per decade. That rate is projected to continue or even accelerate as the planet warms.

When fish cross into new territory, it might prompt competitive harvesting between countries scrambling to exploit disappearing resources.

“Conflict leads to overfishing, which reduces food, profit, and jobs that fisheries can provide, and can also fracture international relations in other, non-fishery sectors,” Malin Pinsky, the lead author of the study and an assistant professor of biology at Rutgers University, told SeafoodSource.

The study looked at the distribution of nearly 900 commercially important marine fish and invertebrates, examining how their movements intersect with 261 of the world’s Exclusive Economic Zones. By 2100, more than 70 countries will see new fish stocks in their waters if greenhouse gas emissions continue at their current rates.

Cutting greenhouse gas emissions could reduce the scale and number of these migrations by half or more, Pinsky said.

Conflict over shifting fish stocks is not unheard of. In the 2000s, migrating mackerel in the northeast Atlantic caused such a rift between Iceland and other nations that it played a role in derailing attempts to join the European Union. In the eastern Pacific, a bout of warm ocean temperatures in the 1980s and 1990s shifted salmon spawning patterns, prompting a scuffle between U.S. and Canada.

Pinsky listed the United Sates, Iceland, Britain, Russia, and countries in East Asia as some that will have to start sharing significantly more.

“I worry in particular about East Asia, where maritime relations are already tense over disputed borders,” Pinsky said.

Many countries may end up getting up to 30 percent of their catch from new fisheries that have migrated into their exclusive economic zones by 2100, according to the study. Australia and fisheries around the Bering Sea may get an even higher percentage.

But tropical countries seem likely to suffer significantly, since fish will move out and others won’t move into the replace them.

“Fish in general are moving to higher latitudes, which means new species aren’t moving into countries near the equator,” Pinsky said. “We think that means there will be fewer fish in the tropics, but we don’t know for sure yet.”

Some species might adapt to warmer waters, and some evidence suggests that is likeliest to happen in the tropics, where fish won’t also have to compete with new species, Pinsky said. “However, we don’t yet know if they can adapt fast enough to keep up with rapidly warming waters,” he said.

The Gulf of Maine is already experiencing major migrations. Lobster are moving towards Canada, cod are shifting deeper, and black sea bass are showing up north of Cape Cod.

“The Gulf of Maine is really ground zero for mitigating and adapting to climate-induced change,” Marissa McMahan, a senior fisheries scientist at Manomet, a New England science nonprofit that works on environmental issues, including by partnering with fishermen, told SeafoodSource.

While some fishermen can adapt to migrating fish, others struggle. Large offshore trawlers that had targeted sea bass in areas like North Carolina are steaming as much as 10 hours north just to catch sea bass, McMahan said. But smaller inshore boats that use fish pots to catch sea bass can’t do that, suffering greater effects from the shifting fish.

Fishermen are responding to climate-driven species shifts in different ways. Some are targeting underutilized or undervalued species. Younger fishermen, in particular, seem more willing to look at the potential of aquaculture to diversify their income.

“That way their entire livelihood doesn’t depend on a fishery that could collapse if the species shifts,” she said. But most fisheries are closed or have limited entry, making it difficult to get a license, she added. “So if you’re a lobstermen looking to diversify into another wild harvest fishery, there are very few options.”

Manomet is helping fishermen prepare. The group has worked with soft-shell clam harvesters to develop farming techniques, and is researching the viability of quahog aquaculture. They are working on developing fisheries and markets for invasive green crab, so fishermen can benefit from them economically.

As fish migrate to new waters, better data is needed to really assess stocks. Fishermen and their observations need to be included, McMahan said.

“They are on the front lines, so to speak, and witness the changes we are talking about each and every day. The amount of knowledge they posses about these ecosystems and stocks is unparalleled,” McMahan said.


Original post: https://www.seafoodsource.com/

Aug 5 2018

Bend rather than break

A groundfisherman on the Gulf of Maine — one of commercial fishing’s endangered species. Melissa Wood photo.

 

The range of responses to the passage of the Magnuson-Stevens Act reauthorization in the House of Representatives on July 11 shows the diversity and breadth of this industry.

The biggest hold-up on coast-to-coast support for H.R. 200 was the inclusion of a recreational grab at snapper-grouper management in the Gulf of Mexico, which gets a leg up in the House version of the bill (a Senate version is TBD). In the end, most major South Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico associations offered their support of the bill with an exception for this portion as well as the attempt to eliminate annual catch limits in recreational fisheries (see Mail Buoy on page 6).

The controversial flexibility clause has perhaps been the most talked about component of this reauthorization. The Fishing Communities Coalition — a group of small-boat fishery associations connected also by their relationships with NGO funding and catch share management — came out strongly opposed to the reauthorization largely because of the flexibility component and the hurdles the bill puts in the way of new catch share programs. These changes, they say, will erode the nation’s deep roots in science-based sustainable fishery management.

However, several provisions in the act aim to include more data points in fishery management, including cooperative data, stock assessment plans for all federally managed stocks and transparency in the council management process.

Flexibility is part of a long-needed recognition that not all fisheries bounce back based on an arbitrary deadline of 10 years. It also goes hand in hand with expanding our vocabulary to include the term “depleted,” rather than using the blanket term “overfished.” Neither of these standards was scientific.

Moreover, the new rebuilding guidelines would encourage the councils to take into account the economic as well as ecological components of rebuilding that affect fishing communities of all sizes, as mandated by the act’s National Standards.

“The use of economic harm to extend rebuilding time frames could extend rebuilding beyond an acceptable point,” said the coalition in a press release.

But how do we define what is acceptable? A total shutdown may bring a stock back within a few years. But if it does so at the cost of local infrastructure and results in a wave of consolidation, is it the best choice?

I can agree with the skeptics that we have managed federal fisheries with a 10-year rebuilding time line to great success. This standard has been perfectly acceptable for many fisheries in recovery. However, it has also been severely detrimental to the groundfish fisheries on the East and West coasts. This amendment is necessary for those fisheries on the fringe.

If we can’t make exceptions for those fleets and their communities, then we can hardly brag about our great successes in management. This is the pendulum swinging. If this reauthorization doesn’t work as expected, then we can adjust it as necessary. That is the beauty of our democratic process — it allows us to grow, change and revise our laws to reflect changes in technology, culture and knowledge.

One reauthorization cannot be all things to all stakeholders. The nature of a federal bill involves give and take. For the sake of fishing communities that have been straining to stay afloat under the 10-year rebuilding guideline, let’s give this a shot. Give them a break and keep fighting for sustainability across the board. We won’t get there without better data, of course. But we also won’t get there by sticking to our guns when we know they’re prone to misfire.


Original post: https://www.nationalfisherman.com/viewpoints/national-international/bend-rather-than-break/

Aug 5 2018

Trump tariffs sting farmers, businesses from sea to shining sea

The administration’s aid package has been popular with voters, particularly in rural areas, according to a new POLITICO/Morning Consult poll. | Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

 

As President Donald Trump prepares to continue ratcheting up tariffs, the duties he has already imposed on $34 billion worth of goods from China and around $50 billion worth of steel and aluminum exports from around the world are causing pain across the United States.

That’s already prompted Trump to promise $12 billion in assistance to help farmers who have been hit with retaliatory duties on their exports to China, the European Union and other key markets. The aid package has been popular with voters, particularly in rural areas, according to a new POLITICO/Morning Consult poll. But the same poll also showed that most voters in farm states prefer free trade and better access to markets over subsidies.

So far, the administration has no plans to extend that aid to other adversely affected sectors, which the U.S. Chamber of Commerce estimated this week could cost another $27 billion.

Here’s a roundup of some of the complaints about Trump’s tariffs heard on Capitol Hill in recent weeks:

KANSAS — $361 million of exports threatened by retaliatory tariffs

China’s retaliatory tariffs on nearly all agricultural imports from the United States have hurt Kansas farmers like Stacey and David Forshee, who raise cattle and grow soybeans, corn and wheat on their farm in the north-central part of the state, Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) said last week during a Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing.

“All told, it has been estimated that $361 million of Kansas exports are being threatened by various tariffs” imposed by China, the EU, Canada and Mexico in response to Trump’s actions, he said.

NEW HAMPSHIRE — Lost sales of mead, lobster

Moonlight Meadery, a small business based in Londonderry, N.H., “had a deal effectively killed by the retaliatory tariffs on American wine,” Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) said. “This is a deal that would have doubled their output. For a small business that meant a lot. But what’s happened, they’ve had to lay off employees and they’ve also been hit by the increased cost of aluminum because of the tariffs on steel and aluminum.”

Another New Hampshire business, Little Bay Lobster Company, that previously sold 50,000 pounds of lobster to China each week “can no longer find a buyer,” Shaheen added. After the Trump administration slapped a 25 percent duty on $34 billion worth of Chinese exports, China retaliated with a 25 percent tariff that priced New Hampshire lobsters out of the market, Shaheen said.

Another business in her state, Intelligent Manufacturing Solutions Corp., expects to lose a $5 million circuit-board contract to a Chinese competitor because of Trump’s tariffs, Shaheen added.

TENNESSEE — Canceled home appliance plant expansion

Electrolux, a home appliance manufacturer, canceled a $250 million plant expansion in Springfield, Tenn., because of Trump’s decision to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) said.

Bush Brothers and Company, best known for its canned baked beans, has experienced an 8 percent decline in its revenue because of higher steel prices. Another Tennessee company that manufactures gas grills is taking a loss on every sale they make to Canada and EU because of Trump’s tariffs, Alexander added.

MAINE — Bleacher manufacturer caught in a price squeeze

Hussey Seating Co., a bleacher manufacturer based in North Berwick, Maine, has seen prices for steel increase 45 percent over the past year as a result of Trump’s tariffs. “And the problem is that this small manufacturer has locked in contracts, well before beginning a project that did not anticipate a 45 percent increase in the cost of steel,” Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) said.

Maine’s lobster industry, which is the state’s biggest exporter, has also taken a big blow as a result of retaliatory tariffs imposed by China, Collins added. To make matters worse, Canada now has a free trade agreement with the European Union that gives it duty-free access to the EU market, while Maine lobstermen still face tariffs of 8 to 30 percent, Collins said.

ALASKA — Salmon, cod and shellfish jobs put at risk

China’s 25 percent retaliatory tariff on U.S. seafood has “clearly rattled my state,” Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) said. The increased duty affects about 40 percent of the state’s salmon exports and 54 percent of its cod exports that went to China last year, she said.

“So this is, this is very, very significant to us. We’re still trying to figure out exactly what this means, not only to our fishermen but to the processors, the logistics industry, all aspects of the seafood supply chain,” Murkowski said.

In addition, Trump’s threat to impose a 10 percent duty on another $200 billion of Chinese exports could boomerang back on Alaska.

“Many of our fish and shellfish that are harvested in the state are then processed in China before re-importing back to the United States for domestic distribution. So in many ways, [Trump’s additional proposed tariffs would impose] a 10 percent tax on our own seafood, which is just a tough one to reconcile,” Murkowski said.

ARKANSAS — Hardwood lumber mills losing China sales

Hardwood lumbers mill in the Southern United States are also under pressure because of Trump’s decision to impose tariffs on China. The nation is the largest overseas market for U.S. hardwood lumber, but sales “essentially have ceased” since Trump’s duties went into effect, Sen. John Boozman (R-Ark.) said.

“Prices are in freefall, markets have collapsed, mills will be closing unless the situation is resolved fairly soon,” Boozman said, noting that the hardwood mills are the primary source of employment in many rural communities across the South.

WEST VIRGINIA — Auto supply chain vulnerabilities

Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) said she was worried about harm of new steel and aluminum tariffs on a Toyota production facility in Buffalo, W. Va., that employs 1,600 workers. But the effect could be even worse if Trump follows through on plans to impose automotive tariffs because parts made in the state cross the border with Canada at least two times.

“The raw aluminum comes from Canada. It goes to a Toyota plant in Tennessee that makes the engine block. The engine block then comes to West Virginia, where we make, very well, the six-cylinder engines and additions to the transmissions. Then half of those engines go from West Virginia back to Canada, where they are dropped into Lexus RX and then brought into this country for sale,” Capito said.

DELAWARE — Prospect of lost chicken sales to South Africa

After years of pressure, the Obama administration persuaded South Africa to remove barriers to U.S. poultry exports. Now all that progress is at the risk of being lost because Trump hit South Africa with tariffs on its steel exports, said Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.).

“I had a very difficult meeting with their trade minister,” Coons said. “They’re going to be justified in imposing countervailing duties that may well close the door to this newly opened market for our poultry.”

WASHINGTON STATE — Apples, cherries and pears caught in the crossfire

Not long after Trump imposed tariffs on Chinese-made steel and aluminum, Beijing began insisting on inspecting all shipments of U.S.-produced apples, making it impossible for Washington suppliers to continue to trade, Cass Gebbers, president and CEO of Gebbers Farms in Brewster, Wash., told Congress in July.

While that situation improved after a while, China has boosted tariffs on U.S. apples, pears and cherries to 50 percent, from 10 percent previously, in response to duties imposed by Trump. That jeopardizes about $130 million in cherry sales, $50 million in apple sales and $1.5 million in pear sales to the Asian market, Gebbers said.

TEXAS — Hitting cattle and dairy farmers at a bad time

“With Texas relying so heavily on trade overseas, we are concerned with the blowback from the administration’s decision to place tariffs on our trading partners,” Russell Boening, a dairy and cattle producers from Poth, Texas, said in testimony to Congress.

“Agriculture is bearing the brunt of retaliation at a time when farmers are already facing low commodity prices, high input costs and unpredictable weather. Net farm income has also dropped 52 percent in the last five years, making it extremely difficult for farmers and ranchers to continue operating,” Boening added.

MINNESOTA — Three biggest agricultural export markets threatened by tariffs

Kevin Paap, president of the Minnesota Farm Bureau told Congress about how much farmers in his state rely on its three biggest markets: Canada, Mexico and China. In 2016, agricultural and food exports accounted for nearly one-third of Minnesota’s total merchandise exports,” he said. “Specifically, more than 24 percent of all Minnesota agricultural exports go to Canada and nearly 24 percent of all Minnesota agricultural exports go to Mexico.”

He stressed that the better course of action would be to expand, rather than contract, trade. “The current tariffs, continuing back-and-forth retaliatory actions and trade uncertainties are hitting American agriculture from all sides and are causing us to lose our markets,” he added. “Once you lose a market, it is really tough to get it back.”

MONTANA — Indebted young farmers worried about the future

Farmers just starting out are already feeling discouraged when they see gluts and falling prices. That is going to make it harder to motivate the next generation, several producers have noted.

“For young and beginning farmers like me the stakes are even higher,” said Michelle Erickson-Jones, president of the Montana Grain Growers Association. “We are often highly leveraged, just establishing our operations, as well trying to ensure we have access to enough capital to successfully grow our operations. Increased trade tensions and market uncertainty makes our path forward and our hopes to pass the farm on to our sons less clear.”

NEW JERSEY — Bitten by South Korean steel quota restrictions

South Korea was one of the few countries that escaped Trump’s new 25 percent duty on steel, but only because it agreed to restrict its exports to the United States at 70 percent of the average levels for 2015 to 2017. That has created a huge headache for Micro, a precision medical-device manufacturer based in Somerset, N.J.

“Let me be blunt: For Micro, this quota is catastrophic,” the company’s president, Brian Semcer, said in testimony. “Under a best-case scenario, the quota would limit Micro’s steel imports to 70 percent of our recent yearly average. That would mean a 30 percent loss of market share and would effectively bar us from helping our customers develop and introduce any new products or expanding our operations in the foreseeable future.”

MARYLAND — Forking out big bucks, and time, for tariff exclusion requests

Companies that rely on imported steel can receive an exclusion from the new steel and aluminum tariffs, if they can prove to the Commerce Department that no domestic steel company can manufacture the product they need. That’s turned out to be a costly and frustrating experience for many manufacturers, including Independent Can Company, a family-owned business based in Belcamp, Md.

Company President Rick Huether told Congress his company has spent over $50,000 internally for employees to prepare 40 exclusion request. “This represents over 500 hours which could have been time spent building the business versus defending the business,” he said.

FLORIDA — Frustrated by government bureaucrats

Other companies complain of their treatment by Commerce Department officials assigned to decide whether their exclusion request will be approved. That was the experience of Sanitube, a family-owned manufacturer based in Lakeland, Fla., that makes stainless steel tubes, valves and fittings for use in the food and beverage processing industry.

After its first exemption request was denied, Sanitube spent three weeks unsuccessfully trying to contact department officials by both phone and emails to find out why, company president Todd Adams told Congress.

Finally, the company asked for help from Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), which led to a phone call from Matthew Borman, the deputy assistant secretary of Commerce for export administration. Although Borman did explain the mistake the company made in its paperwork, Sanitube still had to start the exclusion process again.

Adams also complained about difficult interactions with one Commerce Department staffer, whom he accused of a “lack of professionalism” because of the way he handled Sanitube’s exclusion request.


Original post: https://www.politico.com/story/2018/08/01/trumps-tariffs-sting-farmers-businesses-from-sea-to-shining-sea-717555