Article Category: PCFFA

Responding to Climate Change Threats to Fisheries

Responding to Climate Change Threats to Fisheries

Almost exactly a decade ago, in 2012, the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations adopted and published a major policy statement explaining just what “global climate change” was all about, and why we as ocean commercial fisheries folks should be concerned. That landmark policy statement “Combating Global Warming & Acidic Seas (2012)” (https://pcffa.org/climate-change-and-fisheries) still stands as a beacon of good sense in a world where the threat of climate change has gone from scientific theory to grim reality—and will with certainty get a lot worse before it gets better. This column is to bring our fleet up to date on what is actually being done to help our industry continue to fish in the face of these scary (and sometimes seemingly overwhelming) worldwide changes. T...
NOAA’s AOA Process

NOAA’s AOA Process

On May 7, 2020, then-President Trump signed Executive Order 13921, titled Promoting American Seafood Competitiveness and Economic Growth. Two sections of that E.O. addressed aquaculture. Section 6 is titled Removing Barriers to Aquaculture Permitting and Section 7 is titled Aquaculture Opportunity Areas. This column is focuses primarily on Section 7. The E.O. required the identification of at least two geographic areas containing locations suitable for commercial aquaculture within one year from the issuance of the order. These would be identified by the Secretary of Commerce, in consultation with the secretaries of defense, the Interior, Agriculture, Homeland Security and the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, along with other appropriate federal officials and Region...
Offshore Wind Energy:  Benefit or Boondoggle?

Offshore Wind Energy: Benefit or Boondoggle?

One of President Biden’s first acts in office was signing Executive Order No. 13990 on January 20, 2021. The order re-set the course of U.S. energy policy in response to the global emergency of climate change and growing energy demand. Since then, U.S policy has been to phase out greenhouse gas-producing fossil fuels in favor of non-fossil fuel “renewables” as soon as possible. As a result, there has been a massive political and PR push to develop new sources of wind energy, specifically in the oceans. Many other countries have developed offshore wind energy, but hardly any of that has been in the U.S. Unfortunately, the push to quickly develop offshore wind energy has become the latest political fad, even a cure-all in some minds, for meeting the nation’s vast renewable energy needs, at...
The American Fisheries Advisory Committee Act

The American Fisheries Advisory Committee Act

At the time of the writing of this column, the American Fisheries Advisory Committee Act (S. 497) (the “act”) is sitting on the President’s desk awaiting a signature. We are operating under the assumption that the President will sign this bipartisan piece of legislation. The act would enable the fishing industry to have a say in how certain fisheries research and development funds are allocated, particularly funding opportunities available under the Saltsonstall-Kennedy (S-K) Program. In early May, NOAA Fisheries announced that it was funding 44 projects totaling over $11.8 million under S-K programs. Legislation passed in 1939 empowered the Secretary of Commerce to “carry out a national program of research and development addressed to such aspects of United States fisheries (including, ...
The Oft-Forgotten Fishery

The Oft-Forgotten Fishery

The fishery for North Pacific albacore is an important one for West Coast-based commercial harvesters and the communities which depend upon, and/or benefit from, access to the resource. Between 1996 and 2020, the U.S. commercial albacore fleet harvested an average of 11,469 metric tons (roughly 25.3 million pounds). In 2020, the fleet landed about 16 million pounds with ex-vessel revenues totaling $25 million. In 2007, it was the first tuna fishery in the world to achieve certification by the Marine Stewardship Council. The American Albacore Fishing Association and Western Fish Boat Owners Association share the certificate, which was recertified in 2020. The West Coast commercial fishery is primarily prosecuted by vessels utilizing troll or pole and line gear and while there is no set s...
Thinking Clearly About Demolishing Dams

Thinking Clearly About Demolishing Dams

In the midst of the current regional debate over the fate of a number of dams, first off, to see why in many cases dam removal makes good sense, we should consider the current state of the nation’s aging dams. There are, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ National Inventory of Dams, approximately 84,000 dams in the nation providing a range of benefits that were built for a wide variety of purposes. This is a staggering number – almost one dam built in the U.S. for every day since the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776. Yet no dam can exist forever. All have engineered lifespans, after which their reservoirs silt up, their concrete structures crack and deteriorate and they can catastrophically fail—endangering the lives, property and natural resources (including...
“Once we’re gone, we’re not coming back.”

“Once we’re gone, we’re not coming back.”

This month’s column is a bit different. While contemplating what to write about for this month’s issue, Mike had a conversation with longtime California commercial fisherman John Koeppen. John has seen the ups and downs of our profession and has been actively involved in fisheries management processes for many years. He told Mike of a topic he had long been considering writing about, and after further discussion, they came up with the following: “Once we’re gone, we’re not coming back.” I read this newspaper column headline recently and thought this article must be about the West Coast’s small-boat commercial fishing fleet. But no, it was about small, family-owned farms. While reading the article, I recognized an uncanny thread of similarities in the demise of the small family-owned far...
Divisiveness Should Not Have a Role in Commercial Fisheries

Divisiveness Should Not Have a Role in Commercial Fisheries

On January 15th, an underwater volcano erupted near the Tonga islands in the Pacific Ocean.  This eruption sent tsunami waves around the world that day, closing beaches, flooding marinas and activating emergency plans in California. A four-foot spike in water levels was observed in Port San Luis, Calif., while Arena Cove, Calif., reported a 3.5-foot jump. Crescent City, Calif., got a 2.7-foot spike, and a tsunami of 2.8 feet was seen in King Cove, Alaska. At the time of this writing, the amount and extent of damage done to Tonga remains unknown. We share our thoughts and prayers to those impacted. All fishermen should take this opportunity to review your emergency plans and consider drafting a tsunami plan. Different West Coast ports are likely to be impacted in different ways. Divis...
Another National Marine Sanctuary Off California?

Another National Marine Sanctuary Off California?

On Wednesday, Nov. 19, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration published in the Federal Register a Notice of Intent to Conduct Scoping and to Prepare a Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Proposed Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary. The comment period closes  Jan. 10, 2022. As of the time of this writing, there are 15 National Marine Sanctuaries (NMS). If designated, the Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary (CHNMS) would be the fifth NMS off the California coast and would fill the gap between the Monterey Bay NMS and the Channel Islands NMS. At roughly 7,000 square miles, the CHNMS would be the largest NMS off the California Coast, taking that title away from the Monterey Bay NMS, which covers 4,601 square miles. PCFFA opposed the nomination when it ...
Second Wind Energy Area  Designated Off California Coast

Second Wind Energy Area Designated Off California Coast

On Friday, Nov. 12, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) announced the designation of the Morro Bay Wind Energy Area (MB WEA) offshore California’s central coast. This WEA, the second WEA designated off the California coast in the past four months, encompasses 376 square miles. On July 29, BOEM expanded the size of the original Morro Bay Call area from 311 square miles to a proposed 399 square miles, adding an east and a west extension. The MB WEA excluded the east extension proposed in July. According to BOEM, the MB WEA is capable of generating 2.924 gigawatts (GW) of wind power. In short, there are now two WEAs off the California coast. The other, located off the city of Eureka (between San Francisco and Portland, Oregon), is called the Humboldt WEA. It appears to be a fore...