30 x 30: Climate and Fishing

February 16, 2021

In the last several years there has been an international campaign to protect 30% of the earth’s oceans and 30% of the land by 2030 as a way to combat the climate crisis. Some environmental groups in the United States believe the international campaign is not aggressive enough and they have been pushing to protect 30% of our U.S. oceans and lands by 2030. (The U.S. has control of 200 nautical miles of water out from the shoreline, according to the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act. Known as the exclusive economic zone, this defines jurisdiction over natural resources.)

Further, these environmental groups say protection should prohibit any commercial extraction including commercial fishing. While there is no available science directly linking the elimination of fishing in certain areas to a climate benefit, the proponents continue to push that agenda. Unfortunately, their agenda completely ignores all of the regulated and voluntary measures that have already been taken to protect the ocean. Essential Fish Habitat designations, marine protected areas, fishing gear innovations and improvements, and a significant reduction in the overall commercial fishing footprint have all contributed to millions upon millions of square miles of the ocean being protected.

What is particularly troubling is federal legislators are embracing these unfounded approaches. Late in the 2020 congressional session, Oregon representatives co-sponsored a bill in the House which included the 30×30 component. This was done without any input from the commercial fishing industry. Sen. Jeff Merkley also introduced a sweeping climate and oceans bill in the Senate, however he stopped short of including the 30×30 component.

Most recently, the Biden administration issued an Executive Order which calls for a plan to conserve 30% of the nation’s oceans by 2030.

It is critical that fishermen, seafood processors and communities dependent on fishing have a seat at the table as this moves forward. Fishermen are environmentalists at heart. The health of the ocean is intrinsically tied to the health of their businesses. Fishermen have worked hard to champion and support sustainable fisheries with a successful outcome. Attempting to solve the climate crisis on the backs of hard-working fishermen is not only unfair, it will also not work. This effort is rooted in politics and environmental extremism, not science. MTC will be working closely with legislators and our extensive partners to ensure that fishermen have a seat at the table, advocating for win-win results that benefit the environment and sustainable fisheries – providing positive benefits for communities coast-wide and seafood consumers everywhere.

Read the response of West Coast Seafood Industry to the executive order.