Please invest in Our Daily Planet today, by making a one time or monthly contribution.
We do not charge our readers a subscription fee for our content. We want to continue to grow our readership, particularly among millennials and public servants. Voluntary contributions from readers will help us employ interns and freelance journalists, expand our content, and reach a larger audience.
If you make a contribution of $150 or more, you will become an official “Friend of the Planet” and receive a Friend of the Planet T-shirt or water bottle. You can also submit opinion essays to us for our consideration for posting on our new “Bright Ideas” op-ed page.
Fishermen on a purse seine vessel in the Pacific. Photo: AFP
NOAA Fisheries granted U.S. fishers an emergency waiver of the requirement for observers onboard their fishing vessels for the next 6 months — effectively eliminating monitoring and enforcement of the fishing industry. NOAA Fisheries last week took this extraordinary step arguing it was necessary to “to protect public health, economic security, and food security, and to safeguard the health and safety of fishermen, observers, and other persons involved with such monitoring programs, while safeguarding the ability of fishermen to continue business operations and produce seafood for the Nation.”
Why This Matters: NOAA’s waiver provides only a minimal justification — indeed, concerns over the health and safety of fishers would have them stay home rather than risk infecting an entire crew at sea potentially hundreds or even thousands of miles from shore. Many fishing fleets are only marginally profitable. But now, with no observers costs AND no way to detect or deter overfishing, they could violate fishing quotas and actually endanger the lives of their crews at the same time. The purse seine tuna fleet in American Samoa even argued that it needs to fish for tuna inside the boundaries of one of the few national parks in the ocean — the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument — an area that has been off-limits to fishing since 2015.
They then said, “Most Pacific Island countries that provide observers have pulled those observers off boats and called them home…We expect others to follow. The increasing travel constraints throughout the Pacific are complicating efforts to get crew, repair parts, technicians and supplies to boats in a timely fashion. And some ports where the boats would offload or transship fish are simply closed to them. This combination of factors not only puts the immediate operations of the fleet at risk, but also raises questions about the ability of this industry, along with many others, to overcome the broader economic and social disruption caused by the current pandemic.”
A week later, NOAA issued its emergency rule notice, saying it would last until the current COVID-19 pandemic is no longer deemed a public health emergency by the Secretary of Health and Human Services or September 23, 2020, with a possible extension of another 186 days beyond that. It is understandable that monitors may not be available, that it will be difficult to get crews, ensure they are not infected, that global supply chains are disrupted, and that ports around the world will be closed. It is hard to understand why fishers deserve special treatment in the face of the pandemic or how this waiver will help them deal with those other issues besides finding observers — unless they are using unsafe vessels and crews, and landing the fish into black markets.
Why This Matters: If the waters off Virginia are suitable for wind farms, with their close proximity to ports, naval facilities, and tourism, then it is hard to imagine why wind power can’t be developed in many other areas along the U.S. coast.
by Jenna Sullivan-Stack, Postdoctoral Scholar, Oregon State University Department of Integrative Biology When preparing for the birth of my son this February, I decided to make him a mobile of some of the things that are most important to me (I am not crafty, so this was a real labor of love). What I ended […]
Our Daily Planet is your daily dose of the stories shaping our world and the ways that you can take action. From the climate crisis to the protection of biodiversity, if these issues matter to you then please subscribe & stay informed!
Your privacy is Important! We promise never to use your email address to send you spam or advertisements.