Archive for the Legislation Category

Jul 22 2021

Oceana sues NMFS over California sardine management


Alleging that U.S. West Coast fisheries managers are repeating mistakes of the past half-century, the environmental group Oceana is suing NMFS over its approval of the latest sardine management plan and demanding more action to rebuild the stock.

“Despite these hard lessons, NMFS repeats these management failures in Amendment 18,” states the group’s complaint, filed by the legal group Earthjustice on 14 July in the U.S. District Court for Northern California, naming U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, NOAA, and the fisheries agency.

Oceana claims NMFS should not have approved the Pacific Fishery Management Council’s amendment to the coastal pelagic species management plan, allowing managers to “chose a suite of already disproven, status-quo management measures that will keep this population at levels too low to support either the ecosystem or the primary fishery that relies on sardine for half a century or more.”

“Basically, we’re dealing with a rebuilding plan that’s not designed to rebuild,” said Geoff Shester, senior scientist and California campaign director for Oceana.

Environmental activists, managers, and fishermen have long been at odds over the U.S. sardine fishery, foundation of the historic California cannery industry that collapsed in the 1950s and stayed closed until 1974. Sardines were found in 2019 to be overfished, but fishing advocates say offshore surveys are missing large amounts of fish.

Managers now recognize that the sardine stock size is primarily driven by environmental factors, and that there is inadequacy of surveys used in assessments, according to Diane Pleschner-Steele, executive director of the California Wetfish Producers Association.

“Oceana just refuses to acknowledge the reality,” Pleschner-Steele said. “We’ve been arguing for years that the surveys don’t capture the [accurate number] of fish.”

The accusation of “status quo is misrepresenting management,” Pleschner-Steele said. The council and NMFS need flexibility to improve surveys and assessments, monitor environmental factors, and consider the fishing community needs with “the only reasonable rebuilding plan,” she said.

“It’s a balancing act between the biology of the fish and the well-being of the fishing community,” she said.

Managers have been using models based on northern and southern sardine stocks and linking most of the allowable biological catch to the northern stock, said Pleschner-Steele. But she said newer analysis has shown virtually all catches come from the southern stock, which also fuels a robust live-bait fishery supplying the recreational sector.

Shester said the fishery may account for 50 percent or more of the catch and needs a closer look, too. Back in the 1950’s and 1960’s, fisheries managers trying to guide a recovery gave wide allowances to the bait fishery, and “that was recognized as a big mistake,” he said.

There’s no question that sardine levels are driven by environmental conditions, but “the question is what does fishing do on top of that?” Shester said. “When the [sardines] move into these low levels, that’s not sustainable.”

Efforts to build cooperative surveys were sidetracked in 2020 with COVID-19, but work is underway again with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife on acoustic trawl and aerial surveys, said Pleschner-Steele. Work so far this year has found large numbers of fish, she said.

“I’m hoping we’ll be coming to an update of the stock assessment by the end of the year,” she said, that could get the fishery “out of overfished jail.”


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

Reporting by Kirk Moore

Photo courtesy of NOAA

Jul 7 2021

New Study: Precautionary Catch Limits on Forage Fish Unlikely to Benefit Predators

 

July 6, 2021 — The following was released by the Science Center for Marine Fisheries:

A newly released study finds that, for many predator species, extra-precautionary management of forage fish is unlikely to bring additional benefits. How to manage forage fish sustainably, both by themselves and for the rest of the ecosystem, has become a much-discussed topic in fisheries management, with regulators of several forage fisheries beginning to adopt precautionary strategies on the premise that they will better provide for the needs of predator species including seabirds, marine mammals, and fish.

The study, from Drs. Chris Free of the University of California-Santa Barbara, Olaf Jensen of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Ray Hilborn of the University of Washington, examines decades of historical abundance data of both forage species and their predators, and uses mathematical models to determine to what extent predator populations benefited from increasing abundance of their forage fish prey. Of the 45 predator populations examined, only 6, or 13 percent, were positively influenced by extra forage.

“Our work suggests that the sustainable limits that we already employ are sufficient for maintaining forage fish abundance above the thresholds that are necessary for their predators,” said Dr. Free. “Predators are highly mobile, they have high diet flexibility, and they can go and look for forage fish in places where they’re doing well, switch species for species that are doing well, and have often evolved to breed in places where there’s high and stable forage fish abundance.”

The results have important implications for how strictly to manage forage fisheries. The study finds that, at least in forage fisheries that are already being well managed and are closely monitored, adopting additional precautionary measures will “rarely” provide any additional benefits to predator population growth. However, fishery managers who deal with less well-monitored fisheries may consider more precautionary strategies.

“In places of the world where we already have really strong, very effective fisheries management, additional limitations on forage fish catch are not likely to benefit their predators,” said Dr. Free.

“Management of forage fish populations should be based on data that are specific to that forage fish, and to their predators,” said Dr. Jensen. “When there aren’t sufficient data to conduct a population-specific analysis, it’s reasonable to manage forage fish populations for maximum sustainable yield, as we would other fish populations under the Magnuson-Stevens Act.”

According to the models used in the study, other environmental factors, such as water temperature, are more likely to influence predator populations. These results are consistent with previous efforts to examine the relationship between predator and prey populations.

“What we’ve done here that’s different from previous analyses is try to control for some of the other factors that influence predator population dynamics,” said Dr. Jensen. “In this case, we included in the models a covariate representing ocean temperature.”

SCEMFIS produced a video of the authors and independent experts discussing the results of the paper. Watch it here.

About SCEMFIS
SCEMFIS utilizes academic and fisheries resources to address urgent scientific problems limiting sustainable fisheries. SCEMFIS develops methods, analytical and survey tools, datasets, and analytical approaches to improve sustainability of fisheries and reduce uncertainty in biomass estimates. SCEMFIS university partners, University of Southern Mississippi (lead institution), and Virginia Institute of Marine Science, College of William and Mary, are the academic sites. Collaborating scientists who provide specific expertise in finfish, shellfish, and marine mammal research, come from a wide range of academic institutions including Old Dominion University, Rutgers University, University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth, University of Maryland, and University of Rhode Island.

The need for the diverse services that SCEMFIS can provide to industry continues to grow, which has prompted a steady increase in the number of fishing industry partners. These services include immediate access to science expertise for stock assessment issues, rapid response to research priorities, and representation on stock assessment working groups. Targeted research leads to improvements in data collection, survey design, analytical tools, assessment models, and other needs to reduce uncertainty in stock status and improve reference point goals.


Original post: Saving Seafood | Sign up for our Daily News Updates from Saving Seafood.

Jun 1 2021

Ray Hilborn: MPAs aren’t the answer to ocean biodiversity, sustainability efforts

A global movement to create additional marine protected areas (MPAs) has been steadily gaining traction in recent years, with the initiative picking up milestone victories in the past few months.

In January, newly inaugurated U.S. President Joe Biden signed an executive order committing to a “30 by 30” goal, whereby the United States would designated 30 percent of its land and territorial waters to conservation by the year 2030. The move heightened the potential that MPAs will be used as a tool to tackle climate change.

A recent study supports the hypothesis that MPAs could be beneficial for climate change, maintaining biodiversity, and boosting the yield of fisheries. According to the study, strongly protecting at least 30 percent of the ocean – primarily in the 200-mile exclusive economic zones of coastal nations – would result in substantial environmental and commercial benefits.

But University of Washington Professor of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences Ray Hilborn told SeafoodSource that the study – and the concept of MPAs – are both flawed. The study, he said, made some assumptions and contains inconsistencies that effectively invalidate the conclusions it reached.

“It’s a classic example of where the peer-review process totally failed to identify inconsistencies, bizarre assumptions, and improper conclusions,” Hilborn said.

The study, he said, made different assumptions on different types of fishing effort.

“It happens that each of the assumptions they made about fishing effort is the one that makes MPAs look better,” he said.

A key example, Hilborn said, is how the study approaches trawling. The study made biodiversity calculations based on fishing effort shifting in geography as MPAs are put in place – which itself poses problems, he said. However, the study assumed that an MPA ban on trawling wouldn’t result in increased fishing effort in other areas.

“When it comes to the impact of trawling and the impacts on biodiversity, they assume when you close an area, the effort disappears,” Hilborn said.

The study found a ban on trawling in designated MPAs would have a carbon benefit – but that is true only if that trawling effort doesn’t move holds, Hilborn said.

“If you move the effort, the carbon benefit disappears,” Hilborn said.

Hilborn said the study also assumes an “instantaneous connection” between different species around the world – when in reality, species in separate oceans aren’t going to interact. And the analysis wasn’t actually global, as South Asia and Southeast Asia were not accounted for in the study.

“This isn’t a global analysis, because they don’t have trawl effort in Southeast Asia,” Hilborn said.

Protecting biodiversity is a key issue that needs to be tackled, and the core motivation behind MPAs and Biden’s 30 by 30 plan are sound, Hilborn said.

“[The] 30 by 30 [movement] is not ambitious enough,” Hilborn said. “We need to protect the biodiversity of 100 percent of our [exclusive economic zone].”

Protecting biodiversity in the oceans is not best accomplished via MPAs, especially in light of climate change, Hilborn said. In fact, while advocates have touted MPAs as a means to fight climate change, in reality, they do little to help, he said.

“They want to see 30 percent of the oceans permanently closed,” Hilborn said. “That’s absolutely the wrong thing to do. With climate change, things are shifting.”

Hilborn used the interactions between fisheries and the critically endangered North Atlantic right whale as an example of how a proposed MPA might not work as intended. In recent years, the species has been the center of an ongoing push for increased protections, and recently NOAA outlined new regulations to protect the species.

Climate change has forced the 400 or so remaining North Atlantic right whales to chase food sources that are now located in parts of the ocean with more fishing effort, primarily in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence. That movement highlights how MPAs would struggle to protect species in the ocean, Hilborn said.

“If you had closed areas to protect northern right whales 20 years ago, they’d be in all the wrong areas,” he said.

Protected areas on land, he added, make sense because of the nature of human interaction with the land.

“The reason you want parks on land is that human use is transformative. If you put a city on it, or you farm it, it’s gone,” Hilborn said. “In the ocean, fishing doesn’t really change the structure of the ecosystem. We don’t kill the plants which is what farming does, we don’t harvest the second trophic level, we just harvest the top of the food chain.”

Plus, many of the actual threats to the ocean aren’t coming from the ocean itself, or from fishing.

“If you look at what the threats to the oceans are, they’re ocean acidification, climate change, invasive species, various kinds of pollution, land runoff, and none of those are impacted by MPAs,” Hilborn said.

A great example is the large dead zone that forms in the Gulf of Mexico every year.  The dead zone is created by excess nutrient pollution from agricultural areas – mainly related to fertilizers washed into the gulf through the Mississippi River and other inland waterways. NOAA makes annual predictions for how large the dead zone will be, based on things like rainfall. An MPA in the area to protect that environment, Hilborn pointed out, would have no effect on the biodiversity of the ocean in the region.

“You could make it an MPA and ban everything, you could ban shipping, you could ban mining, you could ban fishing, and you’d have no effect on the dead zone,” he said.

Protecting biodiversity is possible, but MPAs are the wrong tool for the job, Hilborn said.

“You don’t need no-take in order to protect the biodiversity. Again, high profile things, marine birds, marine mammals, turtles, sharks, those are things where there’s very specific – gear specific – things that impact them,” he said. “Closed areas aren’t going to help, because they’re all so mobile.”

The solution for those species, he said, is simple.

“Take sharks or turtles – all you have to do is stop killing them,” he said.

Current fisheries management agencies already serve as a tool for protecting biodiversity, and Hilborn said additional effort can be made using those existing agencies.

“What I would like to see is very explicit targets in what are we trying to achieve in biodiversity, and for each one of those targets, what’s the best tool to achieve it,” Hilborn said. “In almost every case, you’re going to be modifying fishing gear, and how fishing takes place, rather than closing areas to all fishing gears.”

MPAs, he said, are essentially just regulating a few activities in an area, without addressing wider issues.

“Fundamentally, all MPAs are doing is regulating fishing, and maybe oil exploration and mining,” he said. “It’s just the wrong tool. The illusion that you’re protecting the ocean by putting in MPAs, it’s a big lie.”


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

May 27 2021

Biden Administration Sees Victory in CA Offshore Wind; Fishermen See Deception

Windmill park green energy during sunset in the ocean, offshore wind mill turbines Netherlands

Photo Credit: fokkebok/iStock/Getty Images Plus

 

The White House announcement Tuesday of fast-tracking large areas in California to offshore wind brought with it the sharp-edged blade of betrayal to fishermen trying to work with federal agencies to retain their livelihoods.

In Washington, D.C., far away from the areas being discussed, the White House convened National Climate Advisor Gina McCarthy, California Gov. Gavin Newsom, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland and Under Secretary for Defense for Policy Dr. Colin Kahl for the announcement of the first commercial scale offshore wind energy areas off the Pacific Coast. The Biden administration hailed it as a significant milestone to achieving the goal of creating good-paying, union jobs through the deployment of 30 gigawatts of offshore wind by 2030, the administration said in a press release. These initial areas for offshore wind development in the Pacific Ocean could bring up to 4.6 GW of clean energy to the grid, enough to power 1.6 million American homes, according to the White House.

Specifically, the Department of the Interior, in coordination with the Department of Defense, identified an area (“the Morro Bay 399 Area”) that will support three gigawatts of offshore wind on roughly 399 square miles northwest of Morro Bay, the White House said. The Department of the Interior is also advancing the Humboldt Call Area as a potential Wind Energy Area, located off northern California.

The White House said the Department of Defense played a critical role in identifying the areas because it engages in testing, training and operations essential to national security off the California coast. The DoD objected to some of proposed areas in the past but was working with the state and Interior in the past.

“Tacking the climate crisis is a national security imperative and the Defense Department is proud to have played a role in this important effort,” Under Secretary for Defense Policy Dr. Colin Kahl said in the press release. “… Throughout this effort, the Defense Department has worked tirelessly with the White House, the Department of the Interior, and the state of California to find solutions that enable offshore wind development while ensuring long-term protection for testing, training, and operations critical to our military readiness.”

But the announcement shocked the seafood industry. The area is larger than expected and effectively negates good-faith efforts to work with the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management and state agencies. The seafood industry has tried to elevate the importance tof fishing and processing and the need to identify important harvesting and natural resource areas prior to establishing an area for wind turbines.

“The fishing industry has been told these areas work best for offshore wind developers, but no one has asked us what areas would work best for us,” Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations Executive Director Mike Conroy said. “There has been no effort to engage with or partner with fishermen, no planning process to evaluate fisheries data and spatial needs to inform this development, nor is there a clear process for how to do that through permitting now that we have missed the opportunity to plan effectively. The areas announced today are large areas; and with additional Call Areas likely to be identified off California and Oregon later this year, a comprehensive, upfront, cumulative effects analysis should be required.”

The administration’s move mirrors those by BOEM on the East Coast with the recent approval of the Vineyard Wind offshore wind project. The pattern of excluding the seafood industry is not new. Fishermen and processors on the West Coast have seen similar BOEM patterns.

Another case in point: BOEM announced this week it would hold a California Renewable Energy Intergovernmental Task Force meeting on June 24 and sent a notice to the seafood industry to join. The public is invited to “listen and attend on June 24, 2021, to discuss both central and northern California offshore wind planning areas considered for future leasing and next steps in the BOEM leasing process moving forward,” the notice said.

However, that’s also the first day of the Pacific Fishery Management Council meeting.

“It is inexcusable that BOEM, who has claimed to engage closely with the Council, would schedule a Task Force meeting during the Council’s meeting,” the PCFFA said. “The fishing community will now have to choose between attending the Council meeting and participating in discussions fostering our sustainable fisheries or attending a meeting where they will be told that dire consequences are possible for the fisheries the Council manages.”

Morro Bay fishermen were particularly angry.

“We’re totally against this,” Tom Hafer, president of the Morro Bay Commercial Fishermen’s Organization, was quoted as saying in a New York Times story. “We’ve been consulting with the Castle Wind people for a long time, and we helped pick the spot and developed a memorandum of understanding on an area that we thought would be sustainable for us. That was about 120 square miles. This is 399 square miles. We’re going to lose a whole bunch of fishing grounds. There will be cables in the water. We don’t know how the whales will react. There are a lot of unknowns. People don’t realize how massive this project will be.”

The Responsible Offshore Development Alliance noted the seafood industry’s efforts.

“The California and broader Pacific fishing communities have raised multiple direct requests and concerns to BOEM, the Pacific Fishery Management Council, and others that merit prompt attention,” RODA said in a press release.

These include:

  • Expanded fisheries representation on BOEM Intergovernmental Task Forces;
  • Greater opportunities for public input;
  • Additional resources for fisheries-related research and environmental review;
  • Performance of full environmental analyses at the onset of project siting;
  • Enhanced interstate coordination;
  • Implementation of an inclusive marine spatial planning process prior to lease decisions;
  • Advancement of science processes and products that include fishermen’s traditional knowledge; and
  • Decisions based on appropriate time series and data sets with sufficient timelines to gather such data, which is largely unavailable at present.

The Pacific Council will likely discuss meaningful engagement with BOEM again at its June Council meeting.

Susan Chambers
SeafoodNews.com
1-541-297-2875
susanchambers@urnerbarry.com


Posted with permission from SeafoodNews

Feb 17 2021

Setting Biden’s seafood policy table

© Getty Images

Fishermen have been invited to be partners with the Biden administration on ocean policy and we are prepared to engage. Hard work, honest dialog and commitments to justice and equity will ensure that we remain at the table and not on the menu.

January’s executive order tackling climate change includes ambitious provisions that set agencies on a course to climate mitigation. Most importantly for America’s commercial fishing families, the order established two parallel processes to secure direct input from fishermen on, respectively the appropriate ways to conserve 30 percent of U.S. lands and waters by 2030, an initiative known as 30×30, and ways to make our fisheries more resilient to climate change.

Fishing communities are precisely where policymakers should look for durable ocean-based climate solutions. Here are some starting points.

Expand place-based fisheries protections

Today’s ocean is increasingly industrialized and our coasts are more densely occupied than ever. The historic pattern of ocean and coastal development exacerbated by climate change has resulted in reduced protections for fish habitat and serial declines of functional working waterfront. The administration has the ability to reverse both trends.

The U.S. should strengthen existing fisheries habitat protection processes by requiring federal agencies to avoid, minimize and mitigate impacts to Essential Fish Habitat (EFH). EFH consultations are regularly conducted by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), yet NOAA’s recommendations are routinely ignored by other agencies. Executive action requiring permitting agencies to incorporate NOAA’s EFH conservation recommendations into their decisions would significantly benefit fish habitat, fisheries and biodiversity.

The U.S. can also promote the resilience of our working waterfront through infrastructure investments and policy action that secure fishing community access. National infrastructure investments should support climate resilient working waterfronts that meet the needs of community-based fishermen. National Standard 8, a key community protection provision of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, should be strengthened and its implementing guidelines updated.

Decarbonize U.S. seafood systems

Domestic wild-caught fish has the lowest associated carbon emissions on average of any animal protein. Americans should be eating more wild domestic seafood to mitigate climate change and improve their health. With proper incentives and support, U.S. fishermen can secure new markets while increasing food security and reducing the carbon footprint of America’s food supply.

The Biden administration should take this opportunity to invest in local seafood systems, which can decrease emissions from this already low-emissions food source. Strengthening NOAA and USDA programs that support and promote sustainable wild-capture seafood consumption at home is a win-win. Simultaneously, the U.S. must strengthen policies and programs to eliminate Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated fishing, which undermines international conservation efforts, harms domestic fisheries and increases seafood-associated emissions.

The administration can also partner with fishermen on direct emission reductions. Diesel engines remain the only widely available marine propulsion option for fishing vessels, but innovations in hybrid power and alternative fuels are advancing. New programs to accelerate development and acquisition of next-generation marine propulsion technology will set the course to low- or zero-emission fisheries.

Give 30×30 a dose of ocean reality

The fishing industry is united in insisting that 30×30 policies recognize our world-leading fisheries management and avoid walling off areas of the ocean to all commercial fisheries. This call was echoed by two dozen of the country’s leading fisheries scientists. Fishermen objected primarily to mandates for no-take marine protected areas, including those that would set aside large parts of the ocean for recreational exploitation while disenfranchising fishing families.

Implementing 30×30 equitably should start at the inventory stage. According to the United Nations World Database of Protected Areas and by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s definition of marine protection, existing marine protected areas already cover over 37 percent of U.S. ocean waters. Over the past 40 years the U.S. has developed a visionary system for fisheries governance and conservation and through it implemented sweeping science and process-based conservation measures. Rather than circumventing existing processes, arguing over semantics and disqualifying our sustainable fisheries, the 30×30 process in the ocean should focus on investing resources in comprehensive climate-focused stock assessments, strengthening participatory fisheries management and integrating climate change into existing management processes.

In his inaugural address, President Biden issued a clarion call for the new administration: “Let’s begin to listen to one another again, to hear one another, see one another, show respect to one another.”

Fishermen’s appeals for equitable participation have been heard. We are optimistic the administration is setting a collaborative course for ocean climate action that will result in just and durable solutions and we are ready to get to work.


Original post: https://thehill.com/opinion/energy-environment/538931-setting-bidens-seafood-policy-table

Linda Behnken is a commercial fisherman and executive director of the Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association, an association of small-scale fishermen based in Sitka, Alaska. Mike Conroy is an attorney and executive director of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations based in San Francisco.

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

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
Jan 28 2021

RODA statement on considerations for the Biden Administration from the fishing industry and coastal communities

January 27, 2021 — The following was released by the Responsible Offshore Development Alliance:

The United States commercial fishing industry is united around the common goals of protecting our traditional fishing communities, maintaining domestic food security, and leading with evidence-based decision making during an era of rapidly changing ocean use. We are encouraged by the new Administration’s commitment to inclusivity and environmental science. We look forward to improving partnerships between lawmakers, policymakers, and fisheries experts to protect and promote this low-environmental impact protein source, which leads the world in sustainability through the rigorous fisheries management and conservation requirements of the Magnuson Stevens Act.

It is imperative that our elected officials support and adopt policies to minimize and mitigate the effects of climate change; the strategies to do so must equally address the pressing issues of food production, ecosystem health, and preserving cultural heritage. As evidenced by his Agency nominations and recent Executive Order on “Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad,” we are encouraged that the President is taking a measured approach. We applaud leadership and processes that underscore the value of science-based collaboration with members of small communities who are most impacted by natural resource management decisions.

Offshore Renewable Energy Development 

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.

1. Improving regional research efforts and scientific understanding of offshore infrastructure projects

Development of the Outer Continental Shelf should only be done in a purposeful planned manner utilizing the best available science. Our scientific understanding of impacts from offshore wind energy development is improving, but there is far more unknown about how development will alter the physical, biological, economic and social dimensions of the marine environment.

Evidence-based planning is necessary to understand and minimize impacts, and currently that does not exist for the proposed scale of development to proceed responsibly. For commercial fishermen, it is extremely worrisome to see the push for a new industry that jeopardizes a sustainable and historic one without rigorous scientific due diligence. Such diligence must apply to transparent information about the environmental and economic effects associated with the entire offshore renewable energy supply chain, from mining rare earth minerals for battery components to turbine production to maritime traffic to decommissioning.

Currently, there is no balancing of priorities in offshore renewable energy permitting decisions. Promises to achieve production targets for offshore wind energy based solely on climate goals will significantly impact other public needs such as food production, tourism, and national security. Such targets, if adopted, must be accompanied by a comprehensive roadmap for evaluating tradeoffs and should not be pursued before the creation of balanced multi-use ocean plans. These must include funding for environmental research and compensatory mitigation for impacted sectors.

2. Enhanced interstate coordination and a clear delineation of authorities within federal agencies

Some of the biggest challenges around offshore renewable energy development are due to a lack of consistency in the leasing and planning processes, nonexistent or inconsistent engagement opportunities, and poor integration between planning and permitting authorities.

Regional issues associated with environmental and fisheries impacts require appropriate federal oversight. The current approach results in widespread duplication of efforts, inconsistency and inequity, misplaced interstate competition, and overall unpredictability. To help address the lack of coordination of regional research, RODA co-founded the Responsible Offshore Science Alliance with federal and state entities, offshore wind energy developers, and expert fisheries scientists to serve as a trusted regional coordinating entity. The Administration should reward the collaboration on this innovative public-private partnership and utilize it as a resource for improved coordination.

Responsibilities for the various federal agencies involved is often unclear. A clarification of the roles for these entities is urgently needed and regulatory authority should be returned to agencies with most expertise in the relevant aspects of environmental review.

We look forward to an incoming Commerce Secretary who can bring her expertise and knowledge of coordinating numerous federal, state and local agencies, as well as community members and regional partners together through her experience with the Block Island Wind Farm. As governor, Ms. Raimondo witnessed first hand the time and dedication required for effective collaboration and the complex links of offshore wind energy with the U.S. economy.

3. Facilitation of industry to industry cooperation

As users who will inevitably share the ocean space, regulations, and potential workforce, it is paramount that industry to industry cooperation improves between offshore wind energy development and fishing. Currently this is very difficult to achieve and would benefit from regulatory incentives or direct federal involvement.

RODA has worked to bring industries together through its Joint Industry Task Force and fishing industry leaders are committed to direct engagement when assured those efforts can bear fruit. Small collaborative projects and communication have added value to the process, but not enough resources have been committed to truly catalyze the industries working together in a meaningful way. Absent resources and in a regulatory atmosphere that strongly favors one party, progress is difficult. To be effective, support must be directed to fisheries-driven efforts, not just wind-organized ones. Similarly, some wind developers have expended far more effort than others to work with affected communities in good faith. Incentives to do so must be greatly expanded.

“30×30”

The Presidential Memorandum on scientific integrity must extend to implementation of science-based recommendations for conservation and environmental protection. We are encouraged by the Administration’s commitment to collect input from stakeholders in the “30×30” provisions included in the Executive Order on climate change, which implements a goal of conserving at least 30% of U.S. waters by 2030. We echo the concern expressed by fishing communities and scientists across the country that arbitrary closures, or targets for the total area of closures, based on political negotiations rather than science could have greater negative impacts to ocean conservation than no closures at all.

For conservation measures to be beneficial, they must be carefully designed for specific outcomes such as enhancing ecosystem production, protecting sensitive habitat, or preserving fish spawning activity. The public and transparent fishery management council process is the appropriate way to ensure the best available science determines such design.  We must also be mindful that for a vast majority of Americans, the only access they have to the marine resources in U.S. oceans is a direct result of the U.S. fishing industry.  The Executive Order clearly states environmental and economic justice are important considerations in developing programs and policies. Reducing our abilities to provide U.S. seafood to disadvantaged communities would not further environmental and economic justice.

Support for the Buy American Initiative

The Biden Administration should champion the U.S. commercial fishing industry, which complies with a multitude of regulations to provide renewable protein to Americans across the country. U.S. fisheries are among the most sustainable around the world and constitute one of the lowest-carbon methods of food production. Too often we hear public misconceptions that wild harvest fisheries are on the verge of extinction or utilize destructive practices, but that is not true for U.S. based fisheries. Domestic fisheries are the most strictly regulated in the world and have rebounded extraordinarily from overfishing decades ago; failing to recognize their success only pushes consumers toward seafood from other markets with much looser environmental oversight. The coastal communities across the nation that support our fishing heritage must be protected and celebrated.

In light of the Covid-19 pandemic and staggering unemployment rates, efforts to promote jobs should be maximized across all maritime sectors and ensure that any new coastal uses benefit the U.S. economy and Americans. RODA calls on the Biden administration to work with fishing companies and crews, offshore wind supply chains, unions, and workforce development programs to create robust mechanisms that create and maintain jobs across all maritime trades.

Complementary to this, offshore wind energy development should be the poster industry for the President’s “Buy American” initiative. Current infrastructure in the U.S. does not support the manufacturing or installation of offshore wind turbine components and thus energy development companies are poised to purchase from foreign countries. For example, GE Renewable Energy, a main supplier of wind turbines and turbine parts, recently opened a new offshore wind and development center in China. The Administration should support American labor by requiring turbines, monopiles and blades be manufactured here in the U.S., ensuring that they meet our world-class environmental standards.

As small business owners reliant upon a healthy U.S. environment, our members look forward to working with the President’s appointments for the Secretaries of Commerce, Interior, and Labor. Their experience working with small communities, including coastal and fishing communities, will prove vital as we tackle some of the biggest issues facing our nation. We also look forward to working with the entire Administration on protecting and promoting sustainable U.S. seafood. RODA is committed to helping our members stay on the water and will continue to advocate for protecting the important heritage of the fishing industry and coastal communities across the country.

 


Original post: https://www.savingseafood.org/

Dec 22 2020

An Open Letter to the 116th Congress from U.S. Marine Fishery Scientists

Concerning:

Marine Protected Areas – Title II of the Ocean-Based Climate Solutions Act (H.R.8632)

 

December 10, 2020

Dear Senators and Representatives:

 

As scientists engaged in the provision of information to support federally managed fisheries, we are concerned that Title II of the proposed Ocean-Based Climate Solutions Act (H.R.8632), which would require the establishment of marine protected areas that ban all commercial fishing activity in 30% of U.S. ocean waters by 2030, is not based on the best scientific information available and would not be the most effective way to protect marine biodiversity. Conservation of marine ecosystems in the U.S. waters is challenged by a rapidly changing climate, but the proposed marine protected areas will not solve climate-related impacts on biodiversity, instead they will decrease flexibility of the fishery management system to adapt to climate change. The most significant impact of marine protected areas is a spatial shift in fishing, which is effectively a fisheries management action. Marine biodiversity is protected by the mandates of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, the Endangered Species Act, the Marine Mammal Protection Act, and other legislation. The implementation of those requirements with respect to fisheries impacts is through the regional Fisheries Management Council system to protect target species, bycatch species, protected species, ecosystem components, essential fish habitat and other sensitive habitats.

Although several U.S. fish stocks have been overfished, the fisheries are highly regulated to avoid overfishing and rebuild stocks with a precautionary approach. A large portion of U.S. waters are currently closed to fishing, either seasonally or year-round. A prevalent impact of climate change in the U.S. has been shifting spatial distributions, generally northerly and to deeper habitats. Many fisheries are flexible enough to adapt to such shifts, but the proposed extension of permanent marine protected areas would prohibit many adaptive responses to climate change. Based on our experiences and case studies, marine protected areas that are not based on the best scientific information available, such as the uninformed target of restricting commercial fishing in 30% of U.S. waters, will have unanticipated consequences such as increased bycatch and habitat destruction by shifting the location of fishing effort.

As an example, after over a decade of scientific analysis, the New England Fishery Management Council recently re-designated essential fish habitat for all 28 Council managed species, designated new habitat areas of particular concern, revised habitat and groundfish management areas, and designated deep-sea coral management zones and fishing gear restrictions. We affirm that these management areas are based on the best scientific information available, as required in the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act. By contrast, we are concerned that establishing new marine protected areas to meet the arbitrary 30% objective stated in Title II of the Ocean-Based Climate Solutions Act will not be based on the best scientific information available, will have negative unanticipated consequences, and will decrease the ability of U.S. fisheries to adapt to a changing climate.

Title II of the Ocean-Based Climate Solutions Act is predicated on a view that marine biodiversity in the U.S. EEZ is decreasing but provides no evidence that this is true. It is well established that targeted U.S. fish stocks are rebuilding and on average above target levels. A high proportion of benthic habitat and benthic ecosystems are already protected throughout the U.S. EEZ, and the non-target species of conservation concern are governed by other legislation, including the Endangered Species Act. Title II provides no evidence that biodiversity will be increased by more MPAs and provides no metrics for how the impact of additional MPAs would be evaluated.

Yours sincerely,

The undersigned are all marine scientists who have been involved in providing advice to the Federal or State governments on management of marine biodiversity. These scientists include former NOAA employees, former members of Science and Statistics Committees of Fisheries Management Councils including two chairs of those committees, a director of a NMFS regional center, the Editor in Chief of a major marine science journal and members of government advisory panels including the Ocean Studies Board of the National Research Council.

 

Judith R. Amesbury Micronesian Archaeological Research Services, Guam

David Bethoney, Commercial Fisheries Research Foundation

Debra T. Cabrera, University of Guam

Steven X. Cadrin, University of Massachusetts

Paul Callaghan, University of Guam

Yong Chen, University of Maine

Charles Daxboeck, Biodax Consulting

David Fluharty, University of Washington

Daniel Georgianna, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth

David Itano, Opah Consulting

Brad Harris, Alaska Pacific University

Ray Hilborn, University of Washington

Pierre Kleiber, NOAA retired

Olaf Jensen, University of Wisconsin

Bill Karp, NOAA retired

Kai Lorenzen, University of Florida

Franz Mueter, University of Alaska

Robert D. Murphy, Alaska Pacific University

Catherine E. O’Keefe, Fishery Applications Consulting Team

Richard Parrish, NOAA retired

Eric N. Powell, University of Southern Mississippi

Craig Severance, University of Hawaii Hilo

John Sibert, University of Hawaii (retired)

Robert Skillman, NOAA retired

Kevin Stokesbury, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth

 Robert Trumble, MRAG America (retired)

Vidar G. Wespestad, NOAA retired

Michael Wilberg, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science

Affiliations are listed for identification purposes only and do not imply institutional support for the views expressed.


Original post: https://sustainablefisheries-uw.org/

Nov 19 2020

No-take MPAs “do nothing to mitigate” problems facing U.S. oceans, Dr. Ray Hilborn tells Congress


 

November 18, 2020 (Saving Seafood) — WASHINGTON — Yesterday, at a House Natural Resources Committee hearing on the Ocean-Based Climate Solutions Act, respected fisheries scientist Dr. Ray Hilborn criticized the marine protected area (MPA) provision of the bill, which he called “the wrong tool for adapting to climate change.”

The provision, known as the “30 by 30” plan, would require the establishment of MPAs in at least 30 percent of American waters by 2030. In his testimony, Dr. Hilborn, professor of sustainable fisheries at the University of Washington, cited numerous threats facing U.S. oceans, including climate change, ocean acidification, exotic species, land-based runoff, plastics and illegal fishing.

“There are solutions to each of these problems,” Dr. Hilborn said. “But it is not no-take MPAs – they do nothing to mitigate these problems.”

Dr. Hilborn praised current fisheries management under the regional council process, which he called science-based and credible with industry and other stakeholders. He also pointed out that MPAs would simply push fishing pressure outside of the protected area into other parts of the ocean, with no net gain.

“MPA advocates ignore the fact that ‘30 by 30’ would cause 70 percent of U.S. oceans to see increased fishing pressure from the vessels that moved out of the 30 percent closed, and thus potentially be less resilient to climate change. Do we really want to make 70 percent of our oceans less resilient to climate change?” Dr. Hilborn said.

The hearing kicked off with Ranking Member Rob Bishop (R-UT) introducing a letter organized in part by Saving Seafood and signed by over 800 seafood industry members opposing the “30 by 30” plan. Rep. Bishop added that “30 by 30” is “woefully misguided, does not improve fisheries, it undermines the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and even worse, it’s detrimental to Americans, especially American fishermen.”

Read Dr. Hilborn’s written testimony here

Watch the full hearing here


Original post: Saving Seafood savingseafood.org