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  • Writer's pictureBen Martens

Fishing communities must be included in the climate discussion

The U.S. House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis is charged with delivering ambitious climate policy recommendations to Congress, in order to achieve substantial and permanent reductions in pollution and other activities that contribute to the climate crisis.


The U.S. House of Representatives created the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis to “investigate, study, make findings, and develop recommendations on policies, strategies, and innovations to achieve substantial and permanent reductions in pollution and other activities that contribute to the climate crisis, which will honor our responsibility to be good stewards of the planet for future generations.”

The select committee was authorized by House Resolution 6 on January 9, 2019, and will publish a set of public policy recommendations for congressional climate action by March 31, 2020.

The Select Committee has received recommendations from young climate leaders, policy specialists,

business leaders, and state and local officials at meetings and hearings held in Washington, D.C. and

around the country. To supplement their ongoing work, the Select Committee is seeking additional

detailed input from a broad range of stakeholders. The Maine Coast Fishermen's Association submitted the following comments.

See the entire request for information (RFI) from the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis. HERE



Chair Kathy Castor

House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis

H2-359 Ford Building

2nd St SW, D St SW,

Washington, DC 20024

Dear Representative Castor and members of the House of Representatives Committee on the Climate Crisis,

Please accept these comments on behalf of the Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association (MCFA) in response to the request for information (RFI) from the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis.

MCFA is an industry-based organization that identifies and fosters ways to restore the fisheries of the Gulf of Maine and sustain Maine’s iconic fishing communities for future generations. Established and run by Maine community-based fishermen, MCFA works to enhance the ecological and financial sustainability of the fishery through balancing the needs of the current generation of fishermen with the long-term environmental restoration of the Gulf of Maine. MCFA fishermen represent diverse fishing practices who have come together to advocate for grassroots developed solutions to complex ecosystem, community, and management problems. As such, we write today to strongly recommend the inclusion of fisheries, fishermen, and coastal communities as you develop policy recommendations on strategies and innovations to achieve substantial and permanent reductions in pollution and other activities that contribute to the climate crisis.

The Select Committee has a daunting challenge in front of you and we appreciate the opportunity to comment. Fishermen and fishing communities must be included in the climate discussion. Not just because they will be some of the first who will be impacted in this crisis, but because they are some of the most capable individuals, communities, and organizations our country has to offer who can help our nation navigate to a greener (and bluer) future. Fishermen are a crucial component of our local and national food system and land high quality seafood with smaller greenhouse gas footprints than most other protein sources. Unfortunately, they seem to have been overlooked as a participant in this process. The RFI included a section specific on agriculture and the Select Committee held an entire hearing dedicated to “Solving the Climate Crisis: Opportunities in Agriculture”. We recognize that you have two members, Rep. Huffman and Rep. Graves, who have significant interaction with the fishing industry, but our most significant request of this Select Committee would be to invite fishermen into this conversation in a meaningful and purposeful way.

Simply put, fishermen are part of our shared climate solution. Today, roughly 1/3 of all current greenhouse gas pollution comes from food production. As we look to a future with an increasing population and rising levels of meat consumption, emissions could increase 80% by 2050 from food production alone. If the world were to transition to a pescatarian diet (one including only vegetables and fish), this increased greenhouse gas footprint would be essentially eliminated. Fishermen feed people. We must protect not only the ocean’s capacity to grow dinner, but also our own capacity to bring it to market. A well-developed price-and-invest system has already cut power plant emissions in half over the last decade and the revenues created have been invested to make homes and businesses more efficient. Empowering the seafood industry to identify climate friendly opportunities and then making significant investments on the working waterfront to turn those ideas into reality should be a component of any climate change legislation.

Additionally, specific policies are already being developed that could aid farmers in enduring the impacts of climate change. We must include fishermen and their communities as well. Fishermen are adapting to a changing world already. In the Gulf of Maine, where our work is focused, the water is warming faster than 99% of the world’s oceans. Maine fishermen are experiencing shifting fish stocks, loss of primary productivity, flooding, pollution, ocean acidification, and other climate derived impacts and it is imperative that assistance and policy to help fishermen weather climate change is part of any plan. Additionally, some of the solutions to building a greener climate will have direct impacts on fishermen, such as offshore wind, so a better understanding of not only these potential impacts, but loss of local, sustainable, and climate friendly seafood should also be considered.

Our fishermen are stewards of the ocean, and they are fighting to ensure that future generations of Maine fishermen can continue this proud tradition and way of life. Climate change is a real threat, but so are some of the solutions to fishermen if those with their boots in the mud and on the deck of a boat aren’t a part of the conversation. We look forward to working with you towards building a sustainable and vibrant future.

Together, we persevere,

Ben Martens

Executive Director


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