November 8, 2022
Passing legislation that promotes sustainable fishing practices is an effective way to protect the environment. Currently, the Magnuson–Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act pioneers the laws for U.S. fisheries. The act established regional councils that work with NOAA and the public to encourage the implementation of fishing laws and regulations.
NOAA’s National Bycatch Reduction Strategy, plans to reduce bycatch through regulation enforcement and conservation efforts. Their Bycatch Reduction Engineering Program also works to innovate solutions that lower bycatch.
“NOAA Fisheries is dedicated to reducing bycatch in our nation’s fisheries both to ensure the conservation of protected species, and to improve their economic viability and efficiency of our fisheries,” Hutt said.
Individuals interested in legislative procedures can note the federal rulemaking process. Environmentally-minded can make comments directly to the federal government to make their voices heard.
“Individuals can submit written comments via Regulations.gov, or can submit verbal comments at public meetings and webinars during the comment period,” Hutt said.
They can also keep track of when NOAA Fisheries proposes new regulations by signing up for NOAA updates.
Advocating legislation for the environment often takes a village. Thus, environmentalists like Lang believe that change begins with small communities. Using personal values to determine where to buy fish and how frequently to eat it can start important conversations about fish consumption and its impact on the environment.
“I love saving the reason to eat fish for exclusively at farmer’s markets in Hawaii, where I get to meet the vendor and help sustain their culture and livelihood by enjoying the fruits of their labor,” Lang said.
Along with eco-friendly consumption, vegetarians and fish-eaters alike can take advantage of programs that their city offers to create an informed population. In the Bay Area, the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch movement offers a variety of guidelines and courses of action to support fishing sustainably.
Additionally, NOAA offers a series of internships for students and young adults that open the door to careers in environmental preservation. They also have West Coast volunteering opportunities for anyone interested in habitat restoration.
Fishermen inclinations to protect our ocean could be the solution to keeping fish consumption a viable source of food and employment.
“There’s no comparison to seafood. It’s good, healthy food for people. That’s why the environmentalist in me wants to fight for sustainable fishing,” Mellor said.