Feeding the Future - Atlantic Sapphire's Land Based Bluehouses

Q&A conducted by Ambassador Valentine Thomas & Atlantic Sapphire
Human societies face the enormous challenge of having to provide food and livelihoods to a population well in excess of 9 billion people by the middle of the twenty-first century, while addressing the disproportionate impacts of climate change and environmental degradation on the resource base.
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What is Sustainable Seafood and Does it Exist on a Commercial Scale?

Fish stocks play a vital role in food security, providing nutrition and a source of income for billions of people. The livelihoods of 10-12 percent of the world’s population – that’s over 870 million people – depend on fisheries and aquaculture. And over three billion people worldwide rely on food from the ocean as a significant source of animal protein. Accordingly, fisheries are a pillar of the global economy (source). With important nutrients such as protein, omega-3s, selenium, vitamin B-12, vitamin D and other vitamins and minerals, global health authorities agree that seafood consumption is important for optimal health during all life stages (sourcesourcesource). However, as our population continues to grow, how do we ensure wild-caught and farmed seafood can keep up with demand, without destroying our planet?

A FRAMEWORK FOR "SUSTAINABLE SEAFOOD" DECADES IN THE MAKING

'Sustainable development' as we understand it today appeared for the first time in 1987 in the famous Brundtland Report (also entitled 'Our Common Future') produced by several countries for the UN that identified a need to study the impact of human activity on the environment (sourcesource). While the term was first used in the report, efforts around the world date to some years earlier. For instance, here in the United States, the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA) is the backbone of our sustainable fisheries. It was first passed in 1976 and "fosters the long-term biological and economic sustainability of marine fisheries" (source). Its objectives include:

  • Preventing overfishing.
  • Rebuilding overfished stocks.
  • Increasing long-term economic and social benefits.
  • Ensuring a safe and sustainable supply of seafood.

Prior to 1976, international waters began at just 12 miles from shore and were fished by unregulated, foreign fleets. The MSA extended U.S. jurisdiction to 200 nautical miles and established eight regional fishery management councils with representation from the coastal states and fishery stakeholders. Since the Sustainable Fisheries Act amendment in 1996 (and with another important amendment in 2006), the MSA has driven the rebuilding of U.S. stocks. U.S. fisheries management is a transparent and public process of science, management, innovation, and collaboration with the fishing industry (source). The model for the MSA is a success; by weight, roughly 99% of American wild-caught seafood is sustainable (source). The U.S. is a global leader in fishery sustainability and has created a proven and actionable model for adoption and enforcement in other geographies. 

Beyond the United States, the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted by all United Nations Member States in 2015, provides a shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and into the future (source). SDG 14 (life below water) frames the objectives to conserve and sustainably use the ocean, seas and marine resources for sustainable development. Biodiversity, control of acidification and pollution are all addressed within the collaborative framework (learn more here). 

THE ROLE OF NON-GOVERNMENTAL ORGANIZATIONS IN MEETING CONSERVATION OBJECTIVES 

Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are non-profit groups that function independently of any government. Sometimes called civil societies, they are organized on community, national and international levels to serve a social or political goal such as humanitarian causes or the environment. Famous NGOs include Greenpeace and the World Wildlife Fund. It is important to understand that NGOs are approved by the Internal Revenue Service as tax-exempt, 501c3 charitable organizations; they are not for-profit corporations and are subject to strict compliance with applicable tax codes (source). 

Following the passing of the MSA, sustainable seafood focused NGOs formed to further the objectives and responsible fisheries management policies more globally. For instance, in April 1978 a group of marine scientists, local residents and members of the David and Lucile Packard Foundation of Los Altos, California, formed the Monterey Bay Aquarium Foundation (source). To the present day, sustainable seafood NGOS, such as Seafood Watch, the Conservation Alliance for Seafood Solutions, the Marine Stewardship Council, the Aquaculture Stewardship CouncilFishChoiceFishWiseOceanWiseOceana and many more provide an important bridge between the environmental community (who are sometimes perceived as opponents) and the seafood industry. Sustainable seafood NGOS have a history of being the first to alert the public to matters of social importance (exampleexample). And they don't always agree, openly debating issues and challenging one other's policies and perspectives, in a healthy and constructive manner (example). Despite the recent unfounded spate of disparagement and accusations in the Seaspiracy docudrama, sustainable seafood NGOs are fundamental allies in the fight for our ocean and can credibly stand on a 40+ year track record of transparently (and not for profit) investing in human capital and the public good.

 HOW IS SUSTAINABLE SEAFOOD DEFINED? 

The science behind environmental sustainability is quite comprehensive and generally agreed upon. The framework helps ensure that seafood is produced in a way that promotes the long-term well-being of wildlife and our environment. Let’s start with defining sustainability in wild capture fisheries.

WILD SEAFOOD: THE LAST WILD HUNT ON OUR PLANET

Remarkably, seafood is the last wild hunt on our planet for food at a commercial scale. Sir David Attenborough accurately summarized this in A Life On Our Planet, “…fishing is the world’s greatest wild harvest and if we do it right, it can continue because there is a win-win at play. The healthier the marine habitat, the more fish there will be and the more there will be to eat.” 

 Here is a quick overview of the criteria scientists at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch Program use to understand the environmental impact of seafood.

  • Impacts on the Stock: the condition of the target fish population being assessed and if any overfishing is occurring.
  • Impacts on Other Capture Species: the fishery’s impacts on other fish and animals that are caught or used for bait.
  • Impacts on the Habitat and Ecosystem: the fishery’s impact on the seafloor and food web.
  • Management Effectiveness: the efforts to understand and minimize the fishery’s impact on marine life.

    AQUACULTURE: THE FASTEST GROWING SECTOR OF FOOD PRODUCTION GLOBALLY

    While agriculture is farming on land, aquaculture is farming in the water (that can be done in land based tanks or in natural water features) and it’s a booming industry around the world that is helping us meet our growing global demand for seafood. Below are the key components researched when figuring out the environmental impact of aquaculture.

    • Data Availability and Quality: the quality of published information about the farm’s impact on the environment.
    • Effluent: the impact of farm waste that is released into the environment.
    • Habitat: the impact a farm’s location or amount of production has on natural habitats, such as mangroves or wetlands.
    • Chemical Use: the environmental impact of antibiotics and other chemicals released by the farm.
    • Feed: the amount of wild fish and other sources of protein used to feed the farmed fish.
    • Escapes and Introduced Species: the number of farmed fish that escape and their impact on the environment.
    • Pathogens and parasite interactions: the impact of disease that spreads from farmed fish to wild populations.
    • Source of Stock - Independence from wild capture fisheries: the amount of wild eggs or young fish used to support farmed fish.
    • Predator and wildlife mortalities: the impact on wildlife populations that prey on farmed fish.
    • Escape of unintentionally introduced species: the possibility that other non-native species, including pathogens and parasites, could be released into the environment.

    EVERY SEAFOOD PRODUCT HAS A STORY TO TELL

    “From small family-run shrimp farms in Vietnam to large tuna fishing fleets off the Atlantic coast, every seafood product has a story to tell. Knowing the details of how and where your seafood is harvested is key to protecting our ocean and ensuring a long-term supply of seafood” (source). Species, location and method play a big role in influencing these sustainability ratings. Some fishing and farming methods are better than others. For example, some fishing methods like pole and line or handlines are a more selective fishing method which result in less accidental catch of other species. Purse seine boats fishing for tuna can greatly reduce their bycatch by not using Fish Aggregating Devices, also known as being “unassociated” or “FAD-free” tuna. Seaweed and bivalves like clams, mussels, oysters and scallops are one of the most sustainably farmed species as all they require is raw seawater to grow. Recirculating Aquaculture Systems (RAS), aka land-based tanks, is also a growing method of aquaculture as it addresses many environmental concerns associated with open water net pens in addition to other improvements being made.

    Using science backed guidance to establish standards and evaluate how every commercially relevant seafood source compares against the standard, Seafood Watch has over 2,000 seafood recommendations. A simple to follow model of: Best Choice, Certified, Good Alternative, and Avoid can help you to quickly filter your purchases by navigating to this phone or computer friendly database: here. Currently over 200 choices are rated as a green Best Choice. This is over 200 examples of a vast array of commercial seafood options that are transparently environmentally sustainable.

    MAJOR ACCOMPLISHMENTS OF THE SUSTAINABLE SEAFOOD MOVEMENT

    Today, seafood sustainability is an integral part of doing business. Supermarket chains have increasingly embraced the movement, prompted not only by consumer demand but by the growing realization that supply could be in jeopardy. By 2014, all but three of the top 20 grocery retailers in North America were working with NGOs that advocate for sustainable seafood. As of the present date, 90 percent of grocery stores in North America have made some form of seafood sustainability commitments and thousands of businesses have formed partnerships with conservation organizations (sourcesource). In particular the Conservation Alliance for Seafood Solutions is an official global community of stakeholders working together to continue to improve the sustainability and responsibility of seafood supply chains for our ocean and the people who depend on it.

    Your seafood choices also matter, and when you use the power of the dollar to purchase sustainable seafood, you push suppliers to source more environmentally responsible products, driving significant improvements throughout the value chain.

    IT’S MORE THAN JUST FISH

    Sustainability’s definition is evolving and no longer solely focuses on environmentalism, but also social responsibility and economic justice. To be truly sustainable, social considerations such as safe working conditions and fair wages are also fundamentally important as are protections against modern slavery and hazardous child labor conditions. Learn more about the NGO FishWise’s roadmap for improving seafood ethics through the RISE initiative here.

    THE IMPORTANCE OF LOCAL

    We are very fortunate in America to have strong, science-based regulations in place to help prevent environmental impacts like overfishing and bycatch. As mentioned, the combined effects of the Magnuson Stevens Act, collaboration of NGOs and adoption of transparent Corporate Social Responsibility by supply chain participants has led to 99% of all seafood caught in US waters being sustainable (source). Despite the US having the second largest Exclusive Economic Zone in the world (source) and having easy access to sustainable fisheries, over 90% of the seafood consumed in the US is imported, with a trade deficit that has grown to over $11.2 billion annually (source). The main imported species are shrimp, salmon, crab and white fish and imports in this total include seafood caught in the US and processed abroad before being reimported for consumption (source).  This strategy has a large carbon footprint, introduces opportunities for fraud and economically harms US fisherman who must share profits with receivers abroad (source). On top of competing with cheaper foreign imports, American fishermen often are also bearing the cost firsthand to be more sustainable, such as the investment in new gear to reduce bycatch, the cost of individual fishing quotas and the financing of on-board observers like in the West Coast groundfish fishery.

    Thousands of US commercial fishers, many of them third- or fourth-generation, also risk bankruptcy in the face of the pandemic with many of the nation’s fisheries — across geography, species, gear types and management reporting sales slumps as high as 95 percent (source). Socially just and resilient societies must equally protect people and planet. Businesses and consumers can help by choosing local U.S. seafood and refrain from spreading myths about the industry and the availability of sustainable and responsible sources of seafood.

    In closing, scientists, social justice experts, policy makers, conservationists, businesses, and the seafood industry continue to work hard to make improvements in the production of our seafood. Everyday consumers and businesses can vote with their dollars to support the movement for our ocean.

    Peter Adame is the former Outreach Manager of the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch program and spent several years supporting the Global Seafood Ratings Alliance. He’s now the Communications & Sustainability Manager at Lusamerica Foods, a major West Coast wholesaler, processor and distributor.

     

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    "SEASPIRACY" & Anti-intellectualism in the Modern Age

    From the film director of Vegan and the creators of Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret, on Wednesday March 24th Netflix released the highly controversial fiIm Seaspiracy which is now ranked #6 in the U.S. today. In its own words the film is intended to start a “movement to save our seas and uncover the leading cause of marine destruction” – commercial fisheries. Over the course of the one hour and twenty nine minute film, Lucy and Ali Tabrizi of the privately held and UK based Disrupt Design Studios Ltd lead us into the real and current problems in the fishing industry - modern slavery, overfishing, corruption, pollution and greenwashing. However, they go beyond exposing these problems and into a campaign of misinformation bent on insinuating a coordinated global conspiracy (that includes governments, regulators, non-profits, and environmental philanthropies) to rob the oceans of their biodiversity and environmental health. At the end of the disturbing 89 minutes we are led to a single conclusion: “to save the seas, stop eating fish.”
    Anti-intellectualism has been defined as, "...a philosophic doctrine that assigns reason or intellect a subordinate place in the scheme of things and questions or denies the ability of the intellect to comprehend the true nature of things ... Anything that celebrates feeling over thought, intuition over logic, action over contemplation, results over means, experience over tradition and order tends toward anti-intellectualism." (Holman, C.Hugh (1985). A Handbook to Literature (Hardcover)(4th ed.) The key attributes of anti-intellectual thinking are distrust of intellectuals (as in Ali Tabrizi's distrust of Oceana, the Marine Stewardship Council, and Earth Island institute), polarizing viewpoints (like, veganism is the only diet that is good for the planet) and totalitarian means to insinuate thought control - like sensationalist "facts" and one sided interviews with cherry picked content that manipulate real conversations to provide an appearance of credibility. The key enablers of anti-intellectualism are an undereducated society (in a broad sense or limited to certain topics, like fisheries) and corporate mass media (like Netflix).
    It has been stated that where Seaspiracy fails on truth, fairness, and intellectualism, it wins in initiating dialogues that could have meaningful outcomes for our oceans. In the context of the recently turbulent history in the West, I believe that how we start a constructive dialogue, and how we seek to “educate” the public, matters more than ever. We have all witnessed the corrosive and geopolitically destabilizing effects of extremism, fanaticism and “big tent conspiracy theories”. Irrationally held beliefs sometimes don’t stop in people’s minds and can lead to materially harmful outcomes to society (the attack on the US Capitol building, QAnon, the Anti Vax movement). How we initiate discussions and search for truth matters, and Seaspiracy/Netflix is a deeply irresponsible accounting of and search for truth, and realistic solutions to the problems in our oceans.
    In the interest of total transparency and balanced viewpoints, it is important to note that I have spoken with or attempted to speak with both "sides". In engaging Director Kip Andersen to better understand his perspectives on fisheries and conservation, I was disappointed to hear him summarize his viewpoints to "fish are friends". An oversimplification by even the most rudimentary understanding of marine issues. I had a similar experience of Paul Watson, the Captain of Sea Shephard and a collaborator on this film, when we were both speakers at the EarthX conference when I attempted to privately engage him. My goal was to understand his perspective on food security for the roughly 3 billion people globally (many of whom are poor) that depend on seafood as their primary form of protein. Paul declined to discuss this and resorted to criticizing my diet and spearfishing. Such behavior exposes the dogmatism and culture of irresponsibility that comes with surrounding oneself in echo chambers of homogenous, and privileged white narratives.
    Notwithstanding, when the documentary was announced, I was hopeful that journalistic instincts would take over and that a fair and accurate view of the issues would be portrayed over "our way or no way" tactics. What we have instead witnessed is divisive and toxic vegan propaganda that fails to consider any differing viewpoint. In the days since the release we are also quickly learning of twisted interviews, ambush tactics, comments taken out of context and key reliance on outdated and discredited "facts". A 2006 paper which predicted 'collapsed' stocks by 2048 (source) was refuted by dozens of follow up papers, and the original authors have recanted. The prediction is actually a minor point in the paper, it was the press release that accompanied its publication that focused on the inaccurate and apocalyptic sentiment. The easy-to-remember year has helped the story live on in the mainstream media.
    To clear up any confusion: the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) estimates that 66% of fisheries are sustainable contributing 78.7% of consumed seafood. The 2048 projection which was published nearly 15 years ago, is not scientifically accepted and should stop being cited (source). For a reference on other problems with science, refer to the paper by Daniel Pauly, a pre-eminent Marine Biologist and critic of industrial fisheries who believes the film does more harm than good (source)
    On the other "side" I have spoken to or collaborated with a variety of non-profits and non Governmental organizations like OceanWise, FishWise, Seafood Watch and the Marine Stewardship Council. I approached these organizations as a stranger and found them to have open door policies and a willingness to answer the difficult questions while also inviting me directly into the regions of the world that are most productive providers of seafood (link) which have been inaccurately portrayed in Seaspiracy.
    Unfortunately, there is little that we can do to slow down this harmful media, but there is plenty that we can do to help educate and bring light to a balanced narrative. Through a series of blogs and video content in collaboration with Pescavore Seafood, my hope is to do just that working collaboratively within the environmental community to address the marine conservation issues that were brought forward in the film and what role and responsibilities consumers have in ensuring ocean health. I am also focused on the messengers of the call to action “don’t eat fish” shining a bright light on who financed this production and who might benefit or be harmed by this overly simplified “solution”.

    What’s on the line? 

    • Humans, who are part of the planetary network, and who rely on seafood for critical nutrients at every stage of life.

    • Three billion people in the world (many of whom are poor) who depend on fish as their primary source of nutrient dense protein.

    • Access to healthy food for every one of the 9.1 billion humans that are projected to live in the world in the year 2050 (a 34% higher population than today)

    • Our ability to increase the volume of marine resourced sustainable seafood to help bridge the 70 percent more food that will be needed for this future population (source).

    • Security of jobs for the roughly 260 million marine fisheries jobs worldwide (source).

     
    It is my belief that a sustainable ocean economy, where protection, production and prosperity go hand in hand can create a healthy ocean and healthy communities that can effectively respond to these global challenges. Despite Seaspiracy’s assertions, there are “industrial” methods of fishing that have little ecosystem impacts and sustainably supply much of the needed demand. We have seen meaningful gains in the supply of sustainable over conventional seafood in relatively short periods of time. This work has been accomplished through collaborative efforts between activists, non-profits, industry, regulators, philanthropists, and intergovernmental cooperation. It is true that we have some distance to go. However, Seaspiracy gives no credit to the work that has been done and the real potential for even better outcomes moving forward. Afterall, it is so much easier to invent conspiracies, holler into echo chambers and finance one sided sensationalist media and call it a “documentary” than to actually get down to the business of the hard work associated with improving our oceans. Such work involves balancing ecological and human needs.
    In closing, “Don’t eat fish” is an oversimplification predicated on ignorance, naivete and/or a willful attempt to mislead with potentially perverse incentives. To move forward responsible education, we are looking forward to bringing you the next installment: Is there such a thing as sustainable seafood?

    Valentine Thomas is a trained lawyer, environmental activist, entrepreneur, speaker, author, spearfisher, chef, sustainable seafood advocate and Forbes Changemaker.

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    30x30 in Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction ("the High Seas")

    There has recently been a healthy debate around 30x30, or the aim to protect 30% of the earth by 2030. 

    In the last blog installment, I summarized how California and the US are applying marine protected areas (MPAs) and other fisheries management tools so effectively that 99 percent of American wild-caught seafood, by volume, is sustainable - not overfished or undergoing overfishing. But what about other areas, particularly the high seas?
    The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea established a sovereign boundary out 200 miles into the ocean from the coastline of countries. Countries have full control of marine resources within that exclusive economic zone (EEZ), but beyond that 200 mile boundary are areas beyond national jurisdiction (ABNJ), also known as and hereafter referred to as "the high seas". The high seas are home to highly migratory species (HMS) with some being important to fishermen and global food security like tuna, and others being iconic and key to biodiversity - charismatic megafauna like whale sharks (Rhincodon typus). These animals travel great distances throughout their lives moving in and out of EEZs and the high seas. If one country does a great job of managing HMS, but the neighboring country does not, then those species can be subject to overfishing. This makes multi-national agreement on fisheries management critical for HMS.
    We have multi-national forums designed to manage HMS on the high seas called regional fisheries management organizations or RFMOs (we're starting to get into an alphabet soup, but these are all key acronyms when talking about effective management of MPAs). RFMOs are in place for much of our oceans, cover nearly all commercially relevant fish species, and are an alphabet soup in their own right. For tropical and subtropical zones with an emphasis on tuna species like skipjack, yellowfin, bigeye, albacore and bluefin, we have the WCPFC (Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission) and IATTC (Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission) in the Pacific, ICCAT (International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas) in the Atlantic, IOTC (Indian Ocean Tuna Commission) in the Indian Ocean, and CCSBT (Commission for the Conservation of Southern Bluefin Tuna ) in the Southern Ocean. For temperate and polar species we have SPRFMO (South Pacific Regional Fisheries Management Organization) and CCAMLAR (Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources) in the south and NAFO (Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization) and CCBSP (Convention on the Conservation and Management of Pollock Resources in the Central Bering Sea) in the north, among others. 
    Tropical and subtropical tuna (source):
     
    Temperate and polar regions (source):
    The members of the RFMOs consist of the bordering states and other countries involved in fishing those areas, also known as distant water fleets. Distant water fleets are dominated by China, Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, the EU/Spain, and Indonesia who account for 77% of high seas catch with longline and purse seine for tuna, jigging squid, and trawling for deep bottom fish being most common.  Representatives from coastal and distant water fleet countries sit around the table at the RFMOs to negotiate and agree to conservation measures that apply to all members and are designed to manage fish stocks at sustainable levels. Things don't always go to plan but we have recently witnessed the power of these bodies to find consensus and enact protocols for enforcement. For instance, an early December failure of the IATTC to agree on 2021 conservation measures led to diplomatic intervention and an extraordinary session later in the month enacted the necessary conservation measures. Minutes and reports of these meetings are available online and subject to oversight by the general public, advocacy groups and industry.  
    The US or any other country making a 30x30 proclamation for the high seas is meaningless without agreement from our brothers and sisters who share these waters. Multi-national agreement is tough, and enforcement of agreed conservation measures on the high seas even more so. This makes RFMOs imperfect, but they are the institutional tools we have to work with, are improving over time, and the right venue for any discussion regarding high seas MPAs. It is also important to note that MPAs on the high seas have to be enormous by design to have any quantifiable benefit for HMS species like tuna, making other management tools like time/area closures, catch limits, and capacity limits more realistic. We have these in various forms and stages in each of the RFMOs. Again, not perfect but building blocks we are trying to strengthen. 
     In summary, in the context of enacting legislation, executive orders, petitions, or social activism as it applies to the high seas, lets recognize what we already have and build on that while also looking to the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development as a guide for any new legislative, non-governmental, and industry initiatives. 

    Pescavore CEO and Co-Founder Matthew Owens started his career in sustainable seafood as a rural aquaculture extension agent in the Peace Corps Zambia; he now leads the industry in promoting responsible tuna fisheries management including in roles appointed by the Secretary of Commerce as an advisor to NOAA for the Inter American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC) and Western Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC).

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    Is Aiming To Protect 30% of the Earth by 2030 A Good Idea?

    Seems like it, but the devil would be in the details. The problem is there are very few details in many of these proclamations including the recent Executive Order by US President, Joe Biden. 
    Protected areas can come in different forms. Some you can recreationally hunt and fish in, some you can’t; some allow commercial access (e.g. logging, oil and gas, fishing), some don’t. 
    The goal with protected areas is to strike a good balance between human interests, like the wellbeing of coastal communities, and conserving nature - which also provides us longer term benefits. Sustainable fisheries play an important role in the nation’s economy. Combined, U.S. commercial and recreational saltwater fishing generated more than $244 billion in sales and supported more than 1.7 million jobs in 2017. However, the economic viability of the fisheries sector is now in great peril due to the effects of the novel coronavirus which destroyed demand for seafood across a complicated U.S. supply chain, from luxury items such as lobster and crab, generally consumed at restaurants, to grocery staples sourced from the world’s fish farms. With restaurants closed, many of the nation’s fisheries — across geography, species, gear types and management — have reported sales slumps as high as 95 percent (source). Federal CARES relief has been slow, and inadequate. Additional closures and regulation is likely to place untimely pressure on the sector.
    So what does a good human, economic, and fisheries balance look like? A lot of that depends on baseline conditions and geography, or in our case oceanography. Right now about 13% of the world’s oceans are protected in some way and 26% of US waters are covered by marine protected areas (MPAs). It is also important to recognize that MPAs are just one way to manage marine resources. Catch limits including size and species, capacity limits like capping the number of fishing vessels or licenses, and time/area closures are tools used to conserve fish stocks and protect ocean ecosystems. These are applied so effectively by the US government under the Magnuson-Stevens Act that NOAA Fisheries most recent Annual Status of Stocks presentation to Congress summarized 7% of stocks are subject to overfishing and 19% are overfished (population is low) with all of the largest U.S. stocks reported sustainable: by weight, roughly 99% of American wild-caught seafood is sustainable (source).
    Some research does show that MPAs can be effective at rebuilding overfished species in near-shore environments and in some deeper water benthic (sea floor) habitats. That is part of the reason why California established its Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA), resulting in 124 MPA covering 16% of the State’s coastal waters. The Magnuson-Stevens Act overlaps with the MLPA creating one of the best marine resource management systems in the world; thus Federal and State waters in the US and California are already very well managed. There is room for incremental improvement with good science, careful planning, and multi-stakeholder involvement but not huge increases in MPAs. International waters, or the high seas beyond 200 miles from shore that are under national jurisdictions is a whole other can of worms. Please subscribe to the newsletter here and stay tuned as we dive into relevant areas for consideration on the high seas. 
    Pescavore CEO and Co-Founder Matthew Owens started his career in sustainable seafood as a rural aquaculture extension agent in the Peace Corps Zambia; he now leads the industry in promoting responsible tuna fisheries management including in roles appointed by the Secretary of Commerce as an advisor to NOAA for the Inter American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC) and Western Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC).
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