Earth Day Reminds Us to Protect Those That Defend our Planet
Tomorrow is Earth Day, a day that provides a voice for our biggest environmental issues and that marks the birth of the modern environmental movement. This year we celebrate the 50th anniversary of Earth Day with a theme of climate action – a timely reminder and call for the collective action needed around the world to advocate for the planet on which we live. Given the integral role the ocean plays in regulating our climate, helping to absorb an estimated one-third of the carbon dioxide emissions caused by humans, an essential part of climate action must include protecting our ocean.
Promoting the Health and Recovery of our Oceans
At FishWise, we support resilient ocean ecosystems by advocating for sustainable and responsible fisheries. To do this well, we rely on traceability and supply chain data as important tools to help companies responsibly source their seafood. Governments and regulatory bodies also use data to responsibly manage fisheries, and this fisheries management data often comes from independent specialists that monitor each catch. This is why it is crucial to protect the people who observe and document the information that contributes to fisheries management. Unfortunately, the policies regulating fishing activities in international waters do not do enough to protect these individuals. Just last week, another observer mysteriously died at-sea in the South Pacific.
The role of an at-sea observer is to track every catch, looking for unintentionally caught species, especially endangered species, and to report back on how the catch is handled. Not only do these individuals help to inform fisheries data, they also play a critical role in discouraging illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing. As a result, at-sea observers can quickly find themselves in a compromising position, as the “outsider” aboard the fishing vessel. When the disagreements occur onboard, language is lost in translation, or if illegal activities are witnessed, observers risk both their personal safety and job security by reporting the issue. Alternatively, by not reporting the activity, inaccurate data poorly informs fisheries management decisions, risking further exploitation of vulnerable species.
Our Invitation to You
To protect our oceans, FishWise advocates for better policies to protect at-sea monitors and alternate options for electronic observer coverage for instances when observers cannot board vessels. Stronger regulations to protect at-sea observer rights and safety are needed, including policies on how to handle a missing or dead observer are essential. Two-way satellite texting devices and emergency beacons are simply not enough. Mandating 100-percent observer coverage on all vessels – through human or electronic monitoring – is also a necessary requirement.
Fifty years ago, Earth Day was born when 20 million Americans protested and demanded action against environmental ignorance. Since then, action has sparked around the world and many environmental wins can be celebrated as a result of this collective action. Many protectors of our planet, whether indigenous rights and climate change activists or environmental activists, risk their lives daily to protect our Earth.
Today and everyday, FishWise invites you to do your part in protecting the planet. By making smart seafood decisions, whether you are a business, chef, or seafood lover, you can be a part of transforming the global seafood supply chains so that they better sustain our ocean and the people who depend on it. Through awareness, action, and working together, we believe we can accomplish anything.