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 color- are 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. 

Sign our petition here. 

U.S. Leaders: Protect Our Oceans from Climate Change

The ocean is an amazing place full of creatures that are critical parts of our planet. In particular, the vast number of fish species are key members of the ocean ecosystem and are important for human consumption, livelihood, and recreation. Unfortunately, one of the often-overlooked dangers of climate change is the negative impacts on our oceans. As oceans warm, fish populations suffer, threatening not only the biodiversity of the seas but also the coastal communities that rely on them.

The U.S. has already done a lot to protect fisheries and has some of the best management systems in the world. We have successfully brought back many fish stocks from overfished levels, but now we need to protect them in a changing climate. Elected officials need to take this seriously and propose solutions that will keep our oceans healthy, especially if they want to be taken seriously as climate champions.

Climate change has already caused a decrease in fish populations and is driving down productivity of global fisheries. Fisheries have declined by more than 4 percent since 1930, with some fisheries shrinking by as much as 35 percent. Warming waters cause fish to move to cooler areas, disrupting regular fishing patterns and threatening ecosystems. Additionally, ocean acidification is weakening shells and corals that provide important food and habitat. This decline in fish populations and disruption of critical ocean areas have and will pose severe challenges to the 10 percent of people globally who depend on fish for their livelihoods and the more than 4 billion people who rely on fish for healthy protein. 

If we don’t take action to protect our oceans now, we could lose a huge part of what makes our oceans awe-inspiring, as well as a critical source of food and livelihood for people in the U.S. and globally.

Americans have a vested interest in protecting oceans from climate change, and every candidate running for President of the United States should show their commitment to protecting American fisheries from the impacts of a changing ocean. As candidates roll out climate plans, they must take fisheries and oceans into account.

Mighty Earth is calling on presidential candidates, as well as current elected leaders that are in a position to take action on climate and fisheries, to protect oceans and keep fisheries strong as part of their climate action plans.

Join us! Sign the petition.


Photo credit: USFWS/Jerry Reid 

Mighty Earth’s Guide to Sustainable Fisheries in 2019

Mighty Earth’s Guide to Sustainable Fisheries in 2019

2018 was almost a very bad year for fish.

Last year, Mighty Earth, our allies, and environmental activists across the country successfully stopped a legislative effort to eviscerate the laws that have kept our oceans healthy. And it was a close call: special interest groups spent tremendous amounts of time and money lobbying Congress in favor of measures that would have thrown decades of smart fisheries management overboard.

Fortunately, thanks to organizing, advocacy, and the policy chops of a many stakeholders, we were able to protect the law that has successfully restored 45 fish stocks to healthy levels: the Magnuson-Stevens Act!

But the fight for healthy oceans must continue. With so many threats to our oceans, from plastic pollution to oil spills, we need support from private companies too. The task is simply too big and too important for these large companies to stay on the sidelines or, worse, exacerbate the problems we face.

Unfortunately, many companies involved in the fishing industry, like Yamaha, have stood in the way – despite having a vested interest in the health of our fisheries. Their continued success depends on abundant oceans, both now and in the future. Quite simply, they need fish for their customers to catch. Fortunately, we know how to protect the long-term viability of America’s oceans, and companies can get on board simply by supporting what we have been doing right for decades – upholding conservation-minded and science-based fishery management.

This week, Mighty Earth is releasing our “Principles for Fishery Management and Conservation.” This set of principles outlines the vision we have for continued sustainable fishery management around the country. We believe that fishery management should balance profitability with sustainability and that, in today’s world, we must address the worst effects of climate change, protect critical marine habitats and ecosystems, and hold everyone accountable to science-based conservation measures.

Companies can play a huge role in advancing policy; that’s why we’re asking them to sign on to these principles and be leaders on issues of sustainability, accountability, and transparency.

See below to read our principles:

Mighty Earth Principles for Fishery Management and Conservation

The following principles drive Mighty Earth’s U.S. fishery conservation work. We envision a world in which our oceans are healthy and have thriving ecosystems; where we manage U.S. fisheries to meet the needs of both commercial and recreational anglers, while also conserving the resource for the future. With environmentalists, anglers, and business leaders working together, we can sustain our oceans ecosystems and fisheries for future generations.

Around the country, many stakeholders know the importance of keeping our oceans healthy for the long-term viability of our fisheries, the health of our planet, and the benefit of coastal communities. Thanks in large part to the success of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA), the U.S. has some of the most profitable and healthy fisheries in the world. Our management system — which has become a global model for sustainability — has curbed wide-spread overfishing, rebuilt 45 stocks to healthy levels, and is protecting the long-term viability of our fishery resources.

It is essential that we maintain the science-based management requirements of the MSA to ensure that we continue to be a global leader for sustainability, conservation, and science-based fishery management. Below are a set of principles that Mighty Earth believes to be core considerations for federal fisheries policy and management.

Conservation and Sustainability

Upholding Annual Catch Limits: One of the most critical tools to promote sustainability under the MSA is science-based annual catch limits (ACLs). ACLs assist fishery managers in ensuring that the number of fish caught is sustainable and will not adversely affect the health of the stock. ACLs prevent overfishing and rebuild overfished stocks while ensuring that the United States maintains a safe and sustainable supply of seafood. ACLs under the MSA have been remarkably successful. Science-based ACL requirements must remain strong to maintain balanced and healthy oceans for generations to come.

Maintaining Rebuilding Requirements: Rebuilding requirements under the MSA require that overfished stocks be rebuilt as quickly as possible, in a period not to exceed 10 years, unless certain conditions apply. These requirements are critical to the long-term sustainability of our fisheries. Fishery management legislation should not seek to extend these important timeframes, or allow any deviations from current rebuilding timelines, other than those in current law. Proposals to allow exemptions from the law’s rebuilding timelines threaten the progress we have made towards restoring our fisheries to healthy levels.

Protection of Marine Habitats: Fishery management must be implemented in a way that actively improves the sustainability of our fisheries by ensuring more protection of marine habitat, especially habitat that is critical for rebuilding and protecting fish stocks. As our oceans face ongoing environmental threats, it is critical that we protect threatened marine areas so that ecosystems can rebuild and thrive.

Advances in Science and Technology

Ensuring the Use of Best Available Scientific Information: Undoubtedly, scientists must continuously improve data collection to monitor our fisheries. However, fisheries management cannot wait, and the law is clear about the standard for data that must be used. We must work to improve our data while simultaneously using the best available scientific information, as outlined in the MSA, to make educated decisions.

Climate Resiliency: We can and must learn how to better adapt the management of our fisheries to changes in our oceans due to rising temperatures and ocean acidification that cause stock migration, habitat loss, and stress on fish populations.

Shared Accountability and Responsibility

Ensuring Equitable Responsibility: No matter who catches a fish, everyone must be held accountable to the science-based management requirements and conservation measures in the MSA that have kept our oceans and fish stocks healthy. Accountability means that there must be fair enforcement of the law across communities that utilize our fisheries, and that there must be corrective action when overfishing occurs.

Reducing Bycatch: Anglers must be held accountable for, help gather data on, and reduce the amount of bycatch that results from their fishing. It is critical that the amount of bycatch that results from both recreational and commercial fishing, regardless of whether it is part of catch and release fishing, be accurately accounted for so that data can be used to reduce bycatch.

Corporate Responsibility to Shareholders: As a part of their fiscal responsibility, companies must consider the long-term impacts of their legislative priorities. By promoting conservation over short-term profits, companies can assure their shareholders that they are working in their best interest by supporting legislation that will allow their business to thrive in the future, and by boosting their brand as a sustainable company.

Transparency: Corporations should disclose the legislative measures they support, whether directly through their own company or indirectly through financial contributions to other organizations. Companies should also strive to reduce conflicts of interest when it comes to their involvement in fisheries management by disclosing their financial interests and board or council memberships.

Responsibility to Consumers: We believe in corporate responsibility; it is necessary for companies to do right by their consumers and the planet by prioritizing conservation and sustainability alongside their profits. Consumers want to see the companies they buy from on the right side of conservation. So often, corporations have an opportunity to be the biggest drivers of environmental change and can be leaders amongst their peers by taking steps to protect our planet. In this case we know that healthy fisheries mean healthy oceans and that corporations have an opportunity to speak out to protect both for future generations.

We therefore ask companies to embrace corporate responsibility by disclosing their lobbying and committing to only supporting policy that:

  • Maintains a commitment to science-based measures, including annual catch limits and rebuilding requirements, that keep fish stocks at healthy levels and rebuild depleted stocks;
  • Recognizes the importance of accountability across sectors to keep our oceans healthy. We must acknowledge that everyone has a role to play in maintaining the delicate balance of conservation and access to our oceans’ resources, as well as reducing harm to our fish stocks and other marine creatures; and
  • Takes into account the impact of climate change and ocean acidification on our oceans and seeks to foster increased resilience and adaptability of fish stocks and ocean habitats with regards to these impacts. This can be done in part by advancing the science of climate resiliency and protecting marine areas in a changing climate.

Organizers Deliver Thousands of Petitions to Yamaha headquarters

Last week, Mighty Earth organizers delivered over 3000 petitions to Yamaha headquarters locations. Thousands of activists are calling on Yamaha  to stop supporting policies that threaten oceans and the delicate marine ecosystems that sustain so much of the planet’s life.

U.S. fisheries management has been largely successful, and dozens of fish populations have bounced back in recent years. This progress was only possible because the U.S. set up management systems for fishing that balance ocean health with recreational and commercial angling. The Magnuson-Stevens Act (MSA), the primary law governing marine fisheries management, uses science-based evidence to establish catch limits for fish to balance recreational and commercial fishing goals with the long-term sustainability of the nation’s fishery resources.

But Yamaha and other big corporations have recently engaged in a lobbying effort to undermine the law. In pursuit of short-term profits, these companies are willing to undermine sound science and risk the hard-won accomplishments of this bipartisan effort.

Across the country, anglers, environmentalists, musicians who play Yamaha instruments, their fans, and other potential Yamaha customers know that responsible management is critical to the health of our oceans. They do not want Yamaha pushing for laws that lead to overfishing and empty oceans.

And so, after this anti-ocean lobbying effort was discovered, Mighty Earth sent organizers out into the field. Our team is on the ground now in Long Beach, California, a city near Yamaha’s corporate Headquarters; Kennesaw, Georgia, home to the headquarters of Yamaha Motor; and New Orleans, Louisiana, a musical hotspot and a coastal community that is inextricably linked to the ocean and its fisheries. For months, we have alerted the public to this corporate lobbying effort and collected signatures from concerned citizens.

In anticipation of the petition delivery, Mighty Earth organizers requested to meet with Yamaha executives. Both Yamaha Corporation of America President, Tom Sumner, and Yamaha Marine Group Government Relations Manager, Martin Peters, refused to schedule a meeting with Mighty Earth. In the lobby of Yamaha’s Kennesaw Headquarters, Peters again refused to sit down and discuss the concerns of his customers and abruptly left in the middle of our activists’ statements; although he did take the stack of petitions with him.

We know they can hear us, last month Yamaha Marine Group posted on Twitter in reaction to a series of rallies Mighty Earth hosted. And now, we have just delivered 3000 signatures right to their door. But the fight continues, and it’s not too late to add your voice. People are rising up to call on Yamaha to stop driving overfishing. Join us – sign the petition to protect our oceans today!

It’s time to #FishYamahaOut: TAKE ACTION TODAY

Across the country, people are rising up to call on Yamaha to stop driving overfishing. Sign our petition to protect our oceans today!

From plastic pollution to climate change, our oceans are in trouble. One way that we have been successful in preserving the delicate ecosystems that they sustain is by stopping overfishing in the U.S. Unfortunately, corporations like Yamaha are recklessly spending time and money pushing for policies that would undermine the core principles that keep our fisheries both profitable and sustainable.

We can ensure that our oceans remain full of fish by doing what we have done right for years: balancing all fishing needs while still conserving our resources for future generations. Yamaha has built their global brand on musical instruments and continued to grow their company by manufacturing boat motors. We can’t let this company drive overfishing and prioritize short term sales over the long-term health of our oceans.

Musicians who play Yamaha instruments, their fans, and other potential Yamaha customers around the country know that conservation is critical to the health of our oceans and don’t want Yamaha lobbying to destroy them. Join our movement by signing our petition to Fish Yamaha Out!

Mighty Earth Field Organizers Target Yamaha in their Backyard

This month, Mighty Earth deployed three organizers to protect our oceans and fisheries from meddling by special interest groups like Yamaha. The organizers will be stationed in Yamaha’s backyard, in cities across the United States. In only three weeks, they have successfully built the ground work for a huge showing of public support that will pressure Yamaha to do the right thing and stop undermining US fishery policy.

Oceans are a critical source of food, livelihood, recreation and biodiversity. They are the lungs of our planet: incredibly important regulators to combat climate change and support diverse and abundant forms of life. Unfortunately, from plastic pollution to oil spills, our oceans face serious threats.

Overfishing is one such problem across all the world’s oceans but, thanks to our management systems, the U.S. has been a real leader in keeping our oceans healthy and our fisheries sustainable.

Unfortunately, in an effort to sell more boat motors, Yamaha has been pushing legislators for policies that would undermine the core principles that have kept our oceans full of fish.

Musicians who play Yamaha instruments, their fans, and other potential Yamaha customers around the country know that conservation is critical to the health of our oceans and don’t want Yamaha lobbying to destroy them.

So, our team has hit the ground in Long Beach, California, a city near Yamaha’s corporate Headquarters, Kennessaw, Georgia, home to the headquarters of Yamaha Motor, and New Orleans, Louisiana, a bastion of music and coastal community that will undoubtedly suffer from a lack of smart fishery policy due to their connection to the Gulf.

Over the next few months our organizers will be building visibility around this campaign exposing the bad policies Yamaha is pushing for and calling attention to the company’s corporate influence over our elected officials.

If you are in the area, reach out to one of our field organizers to find out how you can be part of our growing movement to protect oceans or stop by our organizers’ Campaign Kick-Off Meetings next week!


In Long Beach, reach out to Lauren Karpinski at [email protected]

Above: Lauren (center left) with 5 new Fish Yamaha Out volunteers at their first Campaign Action Meeting!

















You can attend the Kick-Off Meeting on Wednesday, September 19 at 7pm at
Taco Surf
5316 1/2 E 2nd St
Long Beach, CA 90803

And you can RSVP here!


In Kennesaw, reach out to Audrey Beedle at [email protected]

Above: Audrey (right) with volunteers, getting petitions signed to Fish Yamaha Out!

You can attend the Kick-Off Meeting on Tuesday, September 18 at 7pm at
Independent Grounds Cafe

3900 Legacy Park Boulevard #a100
Kennesaw, GA 30144

And you can RSVP here!


In New Orleans, reach out to Corinne Noonan at [email protected]

Above: Three volunteers on the Fish Yamaha Out campaign in New Orleans, writing Letters to the Editor!

You can attend the Kick-Off Meeting on Tuesday, September 18 at 7pm at
Urban South Brewery

1645 Tchoupitoulas St, New Orleans, LA 70130

And you can RSVP here!

Fishy Culprits Threaten Our Oceans

With Summer just around the corner, many Americans are breaking out their tackle boxes and revving their boat engines in anticipation of sunny afternoons on the water, enjoying nature with their families. Unfortunately, a few seemingly innocuous companies, are quietly putting their profits over the health of our oceans and fish populations.

Right now, corporations with a short-term interest in selling a lot of equipment, like boat motors and tackle, are using their political power and influence in a way that threatens the long-term ability for anglers to enjoy the resource of our oceans. These special interests are working to repeal longstanding and sensible regulations on our fisheries, which will lead to overfishing, the potential loss of fish populations, and the destruction of critical ecosystems. We have a right to enjoy prosperous fisheries for years to come and the way to ensure that we can #KeepOceansFishy is to fish this big money out of fishing politics.

The Magnuson-Stevens Act and Its Attackers

As a result of effective federal conservation policies, the United States benefits from one of the most sustainable and profitable fisheries management systems in the world. The primary law governing marine fisheries management in U.S. federal waters is the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA). The MSA uses science-based evidence to establish catch limits for fish that balance recreational and commercial fishing goals with the long-term viability of the nation’s fishery resources.

Established in 1976, and reauthorized six times, the law has been instrumental in the recovery of 44 fisheries around the country that had been depleted by years of excess fishing. Unfortunately, large trade associations are aggressively and effectively pushing for legislation that stands to jeopardize the long-term viability of our fisheries. These groups make progress by claiming to represent fishers but instead, actually represent fishing gear (motors, tackle, and more!) manufacturers who value short-term profit over the ability of our grandchildren to continue the tradition of fishing, Need further proof? Look no further than the American Sportfishing Association (ASA). The ASA has some surprising corporate sponsors: sunglasses company, Costa Del Mar; bicycle manufacturer, Shimano; and musical instrument giant, Yamaha. Although you might not expect these companies to have an interest in destroying our fisheries, the latter two produce more than bikes and pianos: Yamaha also manufactures motors for boats and Shimano sells fishing and rowing gear. Less regulation on fishing = more Yamaha motors on the water, more Shimano fishing rods in our hands, and more Costa Del Mar shades protecting our eyes on bright, fishing season days.

Special Interests Threaten the Red Snapper

One clear example of where we have already seen the will of trade associations and their corporate dollars put before fishery longevity and protection is in the case of the red snapper. In September 2017, after meeting with Yamaha and other special interests, Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross bent to the will of anti-conservation lobbyists, ignored federal law, and turned a blind eye to science-based decision-making by extending the recreational fishing season for the Gulf of Mexico red snapper from the recommended three days to 39 additional days. Scientists estimate that the extension will delay the recovery of the fishery by up to six years and is certain to lead to overfishing.

Help Us Win!

For the past 42 years the United States has enjoyed the advantages of robust, efficient federal fisheries management systems that the recreational fishing lobby is now threatening with funding from special interest groups. With the bottomless checkbook of these huge brands and the lobbying expertise of trade associations, we can only wonder what environmental regulations will be targeted next.

Want to take action to stop corporate interests, like Yamaha, from prioritizing their short-term gains at the expense of our fisheries? Sign our music fans’ petition here!