Earlier this year, the WSL launched the We Are One Ocean campaign in support of global 30x30 goals. AFTCO, along with surfers who fish, and other recreational ocean users felt the original petition could potentially lead to unnecessary recreational fishing restrictions. To encourage a conversation, a collection of brands publicly reached out to the WSL asking them to suspend the promotion of their petition until a wider discussion could take place. To the WSL’s credit that conversation happened.
AFTCO greatly appreciates WSL’s willingness to have a dialogue about this broad topic. The public relaunch of the We Are One Ocean petition took several recreational fishing concerns into account. It was refreshing to see the surfing and fishing communities working together toward a more well-rounded approach to ocean conservation. AFTCO would like to thank the WSL for their willingness to explore 30x30 perspectives beyond what may have been originally presented to them. Our oceans need steadfast management and conservation, and as a society we will not be able to take part in the interventions needed without a balanced plan for enacting that change.
What input does the revised petition consider?
The We Are One Ocean petition has now clarified several (but not all) key issues that the recreational fishing community cares about. The issues addressed are highlighted below:
- References to fully protected MPA’s (which are often interpreted as no fishing MPA’s), have been removed.
- Most notably for our community, the petition now urges the 30x30 process to “…be driven by science and led by an inclusive process that embraces all stakeholder communities...” Since recreational fishing is one of the largest stakeholders potentially impacted by 30x30, this is an important consideration towards accomplishing this goal together.
Q&A Section Additions
- Fishing limitations and fishing support were further clarified with this statement: “We Are One Ocean petition advocates for the limitation of destructive fishing practices worldwide such as dynamite fishing, cyanide fishing, and bottom trawling, as well as other unsustainable practices. Importantly, the We Are One Ocean campaign is supportive of low impact, single hook and line, subsistence, and recreational fishing.”
- Finally, the revised campaign includes the acknowledgement that in countries with well managed fisheries, the fishing community is often a key part of the solution to ocean health: “WSL recognizes the fishing community’s important role as stewards and conservationists, and that our deep history and culture of responsible fisheries management merits recognition by policy-makers involved in 30x30.”
30x30 Moving Forward Globally
30x30 is a wide-ranging topic. The phrase often used within the recreational fishing community is “to proceed with cautious optimism”. The US is one of approximately 50 countries that has decided to implement 30x30 policies, and the We Are One Ocean Petition is asking other countries to do the same. Ultimately, local governments in every country will be charged with executing any 30x30 policies that they decide to adopt. The fisheries management tools needed in that process will vary by fishery, and to ensure a healthy ocean, we feel it is important that ocean issues are not overly simplified.
Implementing 30x30 in the U.S.
Scientists have championed the 30x30 initiative for years to conserve biodiversity and mitigate the impacts of climate change. The fishing community knows that science-based conservation for game species also benefits ecosystem health, biodiversity, and local communities. In the US we continue to look to policy experts like Chris Horton, National Fisheries Policy Director for the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) who cite “The 30x30 plan could be a good thing, but there are still a lot of questions as to how ‘protect’ or ‘conserve’ will be defined.” In an article titled What Hunters and Anglers Need to Know About '30 by 30', the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership stresses that the federal executive order specifically calls for “conserving” 30 percent of our lands and water, not “protecting” them.
Should I sign this petition?
Ultimately, we encourage all communities to educate themselves on the topic to make their own informed decisions. To that end, we appreciate We Are One Ocean’s approach to featuring additional 30x30 literature and petitions on their campaign. One of the petitions highlighted is called HuntFish3030, which is specific to enacting 30x30 in the US. That petition addresses the full priorities of the recreational fishing and hunting community in carrying out 30x30 policies and is the only 30x30 petition we are aware of that currently has sport fishing conservation group support. That is the petition that AFTCO looks to for guiding 30x30 in the U.S.
A productive path towards accomplishing ocean conservation means continuing to encourage discussions like the one that was held on the We Are One Ocean campaign revision. AFTCO will continue to use our voice to speak up for angler's, conservation and responsible public access. Once again, we greatly appreciate the WSL’s willingness to consider additional concerns from communities invested in this commitment to ocean conservation. We believe they have set a powerful example of the need for additional conversation and education.