Adam Schultz

US - Seafood harvesters applaud 30x30 report

Effort to conserve 30% of the nation’s federal lands and waters faces uphill battle

A Biden administration plan to conserve at least 30% of federal lands and oceans by 2030 is winning applause from the seafood industry, but questions abound elsewhere, raising political obstacles.

Just about 12% of the nation’s land area is currently under some form of environmental protection, along with about 26% of the country’s ocean areas.

The plan, an executive order issued by the Biden administration, and popularized as the “30×30” initiative, has won support from the harvester and processor sector of Alaska fisheries and others in that industry, but farmers and ranchers elsewhere remain skeptical.

The seafood industry, with concerns about fish habitat, sees the plan as a way to protect that habitat from changing climate conditions. Meanwhile, farmers, ranchers and other landowners worry that they may be forced to conserve or sell acres of their lands for conservation.

Two “shovel ready” climate change solutions that already exist in Alaska are critical fish habitat in Bristol Bay and the Tongass National Forest, said Linda Behnken, executive director of the Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association, which represents hundreds of small boat fishermen on coastal Alaska communities. “Conserving Bristol Bay and the Tongass ecosystems will provide huge benefits for Alaska fisheries and coastal communities while buffering Alaska’s iconic fisheries against the accelerating impacts of climate change,” she said.

The plan is also supported by the At-Sea Processors Association and Seafood Harvesters of America. “The Biden administration has committed to maintaining and extending the collaborative, stakeholder-driven and science-based approaches to ocean conservation that have been such a bipartisan success story,” said Matt Tinning, director of sustainability and public affairs for the At-Sea Processors Association.

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