Trump’s Corporate Allies Use COVID-19 to Roll Back Critical Ocean Protections

Our world is in the middle of multiple crises. From COVID-19 to the climate crisis, the United States government is far behind on acting with the urgency that is needed to protect our national health, economy, and our daily lives. And, as with most issues we face, the most vulnerable communities workers and communities of colorare the ones who are suffering the most. For fisherpeople in the United States, the massive decline in demand for fish has meant that boats sit docked, with no market for fish. Instead of focusing efforts and resources on supporting hardworking fisherpeople, the Trump administration, fueled by special interests, has been busy rolling back protections on ocean sanctuaries. This move will not restore the livelihoods of fisherpeople and instead threatens the health of our oceans for generations to come.  

Ocean sanctuaries are home to incredible creatures that exist nowhere else on earth. They are critical to our planet and economy’s resiliency in the face of climate change because they offer areas for fish populations to rebuild. Because of this, healthy and protected oceans are vital for the livelihoods of fisherpeople and seafood industry workers. Further, ocean sanctuaries can protect coastal habitats that are essential for mitigating climate risks like rising sea levels and extreme weather events, which have already disproportionally impacted Black and brown communities. We cannot allow the Trump administration to start rolling back protections to these critical areas and create further risk for oceans and the people who depend on them. 

Unfortunately, in June, President Trump broke the law by opening the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument, located off the coast of southern New England, to commercial fishing, with an executive order that will devastate the incredible wildlife in these national treasures. Now, the administration, under the influence of big corporations like StarKist Tuna, is considering opening the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument and the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monuments in Hawaii and the Pacific. 

Scientists warn that we need to protect at least 30 percent of our oceans by 2030 in order to defend against the worst impacts of climate change and ensure the health of our fisheries and other critical marine species. By opening up ocean sanctuaries to commercial fishing, Trump has once again aligned himself with special interests and big business rather than supporting and defending coastal communities, ensuring the future of fishing, and standing with all of us who love and depend on our oceans. Do not let corporations like StarKist use a global pandemic as a sneaky and disingenuous excuse to undermine critical climate resiliency efforts, further exploit fisherpeople and coastal communities, and threaten the future of fishing for generations to come. 

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