The Ocean River Institute provides donors and advocates the organization they require to save wildlife, clean rivers and restore healthier oceans to go the distance for savvy stewardship of a greener and bluer planet Earth.
Spring is here. With the blossoming of flowers comes a blossoming of support from our donors. This is the season when individuals donate with the knowledge that a gift now will enable us to continue the work on the projects we have already started for the year. Often, it is this added oomph applied at just the right time that makes the difference.
I’d like to take a moment to explain ORI’s greatest challenge and greatest campaign yet, a campaign that requires more resources than ever before. Our goal is to save both the fish in American waters while supporting our local fishing communities. At one extreme there are groups that believe the ocean is like the Wild West, with unlimited resources for the taking. At the other extreme are groups who call for total abstinence from fishing. However, most of us are somewhere in the middle: we believe with best practices fishing can be done sustainably. We want to be able to enjoy seafood without the fear of endangering species.
The opportunity comes only once every ten years to reauthorize the act that governs the nation’s eight Fishery Councils and funds fishery management research. Despite some well-publicized wrong decisions, overall America has the best-managed fisheries in the world, thanks to inclusive, deliberative and informed decision-making by the Fishery Councils. Our goal is to simply see the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Management Act reauthorized with more funding for research, not less.
NOAA’s Fishery Management Councils are responsible for managing all 478 known fish stocks in U.S. waters. Of these, 232 are considered commercially valuable. Since 2000, 34 fish stocks have been rebuilt from being overfished to sustainably fished. The number of fish stocks subjected to overfishing (when a fish population is being fished faster than it can reproduce) has decreased to 28 fish stocks out of the 232. With more research we can decrease this number even more.
When federal funding was given to observe haddock, scientists found that haddock swim with cod and flounder, but behave differently than the others as the fishing net approaches. Haddock swim to one side or the other, while the cod and flounder swim down. With this knowledge, fishermen were able to modify their nets and practices to catch the haddock more effectively. Now haddock is being fished sustainably with less by-catch of cod and flounder.
ORI’s campaign to save fish and fishing communities is a two-step process. The first step is to educate, engage, and broaden the base of people who understand and support improved fishery management. Citizens need to know more about fish in order to grasp the challenges involved in estimating fish populations, which continue to change as their habitat conditions worsen. The second step is for legislators to pass a bill that includes more funding. To make that heavy lift, politicians need to know that this is a priority for their constituents. With lots of citizen encouragement, the legislators will put in the work.
ORI is committed to informing people’s seafood consumption practices and urging them to eat more sustainably. Verbally showing support is one thing, but making sure your actions are in line you’re your words is another. We are asking people to take three steps. First, eat more fish and less meat. This slows climate change because fish leave a much smaller carbon footprint than meat. Second, eat locally caught fish. This supports our nearby fishermen. Third, we ask people to consider buying the less expensive local ocean fish. The cheapest fish at the store are the more abundant stocks, so buying these fish provides a market for the fishermen, and helps allow overfished fish populations to recover.
Many people are working to save fish and fishing communities by promoting good practices, spot-on research by the fishery councils, and policy changes for sustainable fisheries. To accomplish this, you will not find a more inclusive and legislatively credible organization than the Ocean River Institute.
You can do your part by making a donation today. Consider becoming a blue green sustainer by donating monthly – it’s the most effective way to support us because we can plan on it. For a little “oomph” of only $5 a month, you can make a real difference for saving fish and fishing communities. Please join with us on this marvelous voyage. You’ll never forget the fish you meet along the way. Legislators will never forget your tales of fish and ocean wildlife.