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. 

Another Major Company Drops Cargill over Deforestation Concerns

IntraFish reports that “Global salmon giant Grieg Seafood has excluded Cargill Aqua Nutrition from the proceeds of its $92 million green bond until its parent company Cargill has significantly reduced its soy-related deforestation risk in Brazil.” In response to the news, Mighty Earth CEO Glenn Hurowitz released the following statement:

"Cargill’s recklessness has destroyed forests, fueled climate change, displaced Indigenous communities, and imperiled workers from vulnerable communities in its meat plants. But today, a new victim of Cargill's recklessness has emerged — Cargill itself.

"Norwegian salmon company Grieg Seafood has announced that it will exclude Cargill from its $92 million green bond, citing concerns about Cargill's ties to deforestation in Brazil. This news is just the latest blow to Cargill's bottom line, as a growing number of consumer-facing companies are unwilling to associate their hard-earned brands with Cargill's sullied reputation. Late last year, Nestlé announced it would cease purchases of Cargill's Brazilian soybeans over fears they were being grown on deforested land.

"Cargill has responded with the usual vague statements and commitments that never seem to find their way beyond a piece of paper. Major supermarket chains like Costco and Casino should take notice: Cargill hasn't changed, and doing business with deforesters is a liability that your customers will no longer accept."

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 

As Massive Dead Zone Blooms in Gulf, Hold Industrial Farming Companies Responsible

Today, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced that scientists have determined that this year’s Gulf of Mexico “dead zone” is 6,952 square miles, nearly the size of New Jersey. In response, Mighty Earth Campaign Director Lucia von Reusner released the following statement:

“The collapse of one of our most important watersheds is tragic not only because of its size, impact on marine life, and consequences on Gulf economies – but because it’s entirely predictable and preventable. Uncontrolled runoff from industrial meat production flushed down the Mississippi River into the Gulf of Mexico is known to be the main source of pollution causing the dead zone. The raw sewage from livestock waste and runoff from grain fields washing into waterways across the Midwest has reached crisis levels – contaminating drinking water, causing toxic algae blooms, and deoxygenating important waterways throughout the Mississippi River watershed.

“The very predictability of this crisis is the most damning indictment. America’s meat companies know where their waste is going and what effect it has on water quality, but are content to leave these problems to communities downstream that have to foot the bill. This is shameless corporate abuse of our public waterways. It is time the companies responsible are held to account for cleaning up American waterways.

“As climate-fueled flooding becomes commonplace in America, the industrial meat companies like JBS and Cargill that are responsible for driving polluting farming practices must immediately take action to implement protections for America’s water.”

A recent Mighty Earth analysis showed that nearly 220 million tons of untreated animal waste and other pollutants washed freely off industrial farms into the Mississippi River watershed in 2018, endangering local water quality and ultimately contributing to the toxic algal blooms fueling the annual Gulf dead zone. This is 500 times more raw sewage than New York City produced during the same year. America’s largest meat companies have concentrated their slaughterhouses and processing facilities near waterways throughout the Mississippi River Basin that are increasingly prone to flooding, while failing to develop and implement practices to protect water quality.

Agricultural giant JBS, responsible for 80 million tons of pollution in 2018, was the top polluter identified in the analysis, while Cargill and Tyson were the most vulnerable to flooding. Polluted runoff from fields producing the vast quantities of animal feed used by these companies is another major source of water contamination causing the dead zone.

This announcement comes shortly after the publication of Mighty Earth’s “Cargill: Worst Company in the World” report, which documents decades of bad acts by Cargill and calls on the company to take action to address the negative impacts of its massive supply chain. Cargill is the second-largest feed beef processor in North America and the largest supplier of ground beef in the world.

Additional Resources:

Call on Walgreen’s to stop selling blue whale’s food as nutritional supplements

Sign the petition to Walgreens Boots Alliance

Dear CEO Stefano Pessina,

Antarctica is the world’s last great refuge, guaranteed by treaty to be free from commercial exploitation. Unfortunately, this protection didn’t extend to the Southern Ocean that surrounds Antarctica, leaving its immense marine life vulnerable.

A powerful Washington player takes on Walgreens to protect Antarctic krill

The World on Public Radio International

Krill populations in Antarctica have dropped by 40 to 80 percent in the past 30 years. It’s not just from overfishing — krill also need sea ice, which is retreating as the climate warms. With fewer krill, two species of penguins are in rapid decline, and Antarctic blue whales have been pushed closer to extinction.

That's what worries Glenn Hurowitz, director of Lifeline Antarctica, a coalition of organizations working to protect the waters surrounding the southern continent.

“Our vision is to make the southern ocean the last refuge that’s free of commercial and military exploitation. Part of that means not sending these huge ships with vacuum cleaners that suck up krill to the Antarctic Ocean,” says Hurowitz….

Continue reading.

Vacuuming Antarctica for Krill: The Corporations Plundering the Earth’s Last Frontier

SumOfUs report shows how Walgreens, CVS, and other retailers are selling nutritional supplements that put blue whales and penguins at risk. This exploitation is ultimately dependent on a market for krill-based products. Currently, this route to market is provided by a number of major retailers, including Walmart, Target, CVS, and Walgreen’s. These companies continue to sell krill products despite clear contradictions with their own sustainability commitments. Our message to these companies is simple:

Stop supporting the dangerous exploitation of Antarctic krill. Take the krill off your shelves, and leave it for the penguins and the Antarctic ecosystem. Continue reading.