How Digital Tracking of Rogue Fishing Can Safeguard Vast Ocean Reserves
New York Times by Andrew C. Revkin – September 15, 2016
The capacity to use digital tools to rein in illegal fishing in distant oceans got an enormous boost this morning, just ahead of the big international Our Ocean conference in Washington hosted by Secretary of State John Kerry.


Above the Arctic Circle, climate change closes in on the remote town of Barrow
Washington Post by Adam Popescu – September 12, 2016
BARROW, ALASKA — Here in the northernmost municipality of the United States, 320 miles above the Arctic Circle, people are facing the idea that they may soon be among the world’s first climate-change refugees.

As climate change alters the oceans, what will happen to Dungeness crabs?
The Conversation by Paul McElhany – September 15, 2016
Many travelers visit the Pacific Northwest to eat the region’s famous seafood – particularly Dungeness crabs, which are popular in crab cakes or wrestled straight out of the shell. Locals also love catching and eating the feisty creatures. One of my favorite ways to spend an afternoon is fishing for Dungeness crabs from a pier in Puget Sound with my daughter. We both enjoy the anticipation of not knowing what we will discover when we pull up the trap. For us, the mystery is part of the fun.

Labeling and Marketing

Alaska Seafood Launches ‘We Are Wild’ in the UK
The Fish Site – September 20, 2016
US – The Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute (ASMI) has launched a new marketing campaign in the UK – “We are Wild”.
The campaign – underpinned by a new mobile-friendly mircrosite – highlights the unique qualities of Alaska seafood and acts as an enhanced educational tool for the foodservice and hospitality industries as well as consumers.


28th Annual Fishermen’s Fall Festival
Benefiting Seattle Fishermen’s Memorial Supporting our community for 28 years!
Saturday, September 24, 2016 from 11 am – 6 pm Free: No admission fee!
The Festival celebrates the return of the North Pacific fishing fleet to the terminal, works to increase the public’s knowledge of the importance of the fishing industry as well as Fishermen’s Terminal to Seattle while raising money for the Seattle Fishermen’s Memorial Foundation. This is an all-volunteer event that depends on over 200 volunteers for its success.


Are the Big NGO’s Winning the Marine Monument Battle, But Losing the War
SEAFOODNEWS.COM  [Editor’s View] by John Sackton – September 15, 2016
Coinciding with the opening of the Our Oceans conference in Washington, DC today, President Obama announced a new 5000 square mile marine monument on the southeast corner of George’s Bank, encompassing three submarine canyons and some seamounts further off the continental shelf.

The map of the monument closely hews to the proposed map put out by Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal in a letter to Obama in July.  It follows a letter at the end of June from the six senators representing Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut, along with a host of environmental NGOs.

The argument is simple:  America has created a series of national parks on land.  It should offer the same protections in the marine environment.

NGOs have been urging Obama to use executive authority to create marine monuments under the antiquities act, which are designated as areas with no human economic activity except recreational fishing. (click image for larger version)

The Oceans Conference hosted by Secretary of State John Kerry has the same goal:  to put aside large areas  of the global marine ecosystem in a series of reserves or marine protected areas.

This is not a goal opposed by fishery managers or the industry.

You might be surprised to learn that currently 32% of US marine waters are in marine protected areas.  3% of US waters are in fully protected no-take reserves, such as the monument just created today.

The State Dept. says that at the inaugural 2014 Our Ocean conference, President Obama announced our intent to expand the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument.  This expansion – to over 1.2 million sq km, or about three times the size of California – was finalized September 26, 2014, creating the world’s largest MPA that is off limits to commercial extractive uses, including commercial fishing.

Last month, the US expanded this monument by five times, to an area the size of the Gulf of Mexico.

“In total, governments attending the 2014 and 2015 Our Ocean conferences announced new commitments to protect nearly 6 million square kilometers of the ocean – an area more than twice the size of India.  NGOs and philanthropies attending the conferences also announced significant commitments to help establish and implement these and other MPAs.”

“The world has agreed to a target of conserving at least 10 percent of coastal and marine areas, including through effectively managed protected areas, by 2020.  Through the Our Ocean conferences, we seek to help achieve and even surpass this goal. ”

The reason that all of the fishery management councils, most state fishery managers, and a majority of the US seafood industry recently wrote Obama pleading to stop the expansion of protected areas without scientific review is that these managers and the industry already work with large areas that are protected, and yet also allow for non-destructive economic activity.

Furthermore, the people involved in creating the protected areas often know nothing about them.  For example, the Boston Globe this morning reports “Administration officials said that a study from the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration showed waters in the Northeast are projected to rise three times faster than the global average.  In addition, officials said, climate change is threatening fish stocks in the region — such as salmon, lobster, and scallops — and the monument will provide a refuge for at-risk species.”

Lets unpack this absurdity.  Global warming is causing species to move, so they will move out of the protected areas and into non-protected areas.   Second, the examples given are so uninformed.  Lobster populations are the highest in a hundred years; scallop populations have rebounded under one of the most successful fisheries management initiatives on the East Coast.  And Salmon?  Why salmon have not been fished in quantity in New England for hundreds of years, and the designation of part of the continental shelf for protection has nothing to do whatsoever with salmon habitat.  They are not there, and never have been.   It is this level of ignorance that makes the fishery councils throw up their hands in despair.

Given the ease with which the NGOs can communicate the desire for no-take reserves, they demonize the alternative, which is managed areas for protection.  This is the way most of the US protected areas have been created: through a review and nomination process that is scientifically vetted, and through use of the essential habitat laws that are part of Magnuson.  In fact, in the examples above, it is precisely managed protection that has led to a huge abundance of scallops, lobsters, and preserved salmon runs.

NGOs are winning the battle on creating no-take marine monuments.  But to do this, they have to deny the validity of the scientific and public review that has led to the dramatic changes in global fisheries sustainability over the past twenty years.  It is no mystery why many wild fish stocks are rebounding.  It is because managers imposed the correct science of harvest control and protection of spawning areas.

It is precisely when they abandon arguments based on science-driven actions to protect areas where the NGOs may lose us the war.

By encouraging their supporters to devalue the existing protections (32% of US waters) because only 10% are full no-take zones, the NGOs also deny the validity of the scientific review process which fishery managers have used to bring back global fish stocks.

Protecting marine environments should be a joint goal our entire country, including the seafood industry, environmental activists, and the public at large.  The most effective way to do that is to constantly support the application of science driven decision making to questions about marine habitats and resources.

By undermining that approach, NGOs risk advancing those who will claim their uses of the marine environment don’t have to be analyzed for impacts.

Today, the political powers broadly support more marine protection.  In the future, political powers may broadly support increased jobs in the arctic or wherever needed, without regard to the impact on marine ecosystems.

It was the North Pacific Council, who put in place a moratorium on fishing in the arctic ocean, that took one of the most dramatic steps for marine protection in a changing environment.  They did this in the context of making the best scientific decisions possible, and they set up a review process that would curtail any reckless or damaging approaches to that marine environment.

The NGO’s, by failing to recognize the strong advancement of protections already in place, may end up weakening these protections in a future of warmer waters and fisheries crisis.  That will be precisely when we may need them the most.

Abandoning a public process of scientific review is a dangerous game because we do not know what the future will bring.  Yet the NGO’s are arguing that their emotional approach leads to the strongest long-term protection.

The actual results may be the opposite.

Ann Owens
Pacific Seafood Processors Association
Office Manager
1900 W Emerson Place Suite 205, Seattle, WA 98119
Phone: 206.281.1667
E-mail:; Website:
Our office days/hours are Monday-Friday
8:00 A.M. – 5:00 P.M.

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September 20, 2016