This past week has been another juxtaposing of the struggles that fishing communities face today with the struggles of the Civil Rights era and beyond. From hearing the disappointing (yet expected) results of the trial of the murderers of Breonna Taylor, to the upcoming release of Jalil Muntaqim, a Black Panther who’s been imprisoned for over 49 years, we see systems that aren’t playing fair. Systems that weren’t designed to play fair in the first place. These same systems have made it acceptable for unleveled playing fields to persist across our society - including in fishing communities. Whether its the Army Corps of engineers suppressing fishing community voices for a proposed factory fish farm or a seafood system that invisibilizes the people who catch our fish, the systemic roots are connected. Yet in the face of these injustices, we see people resist, rise up, and build.
For all the darkness that is being brought to our attention, be sure to ground in the light that is the resistance that has been happening and will continue to happen until we win! And as a microcosm of that resistance, I want to highlight some recent actions and events coming up!
Even as we’re all struggling to stay afloat during these uncertain times, we must be vigilant as “solutions” are offered, that we don’t let the wool be pulled over our eyes. In recent weeks, we’ve seen a surge of propaganda promoting “sustainable” industrial farmed fish and a disturbing narrative that industrial aquaculture (read: factory fish farming) will solve food insecurity. We’re here to tell you that this messaging is false. We’ve seen this before. Big corporations swoop in making grandiose promises to support communities (economical gains, jobs, security, etc.) but the aftermath of these sweeping moves has left communities with low-wage jobs, privatized industries, and displaced residents while the big companies have depleted resources in order to fatten their pockets and control commodities. As we work tirelessly to steer Congress to support communities during this pandemic, we also need to remind Congress of the mistakes of the past. Mistakes that, if repeated, could have a catastrophic impact on hard working communities, especially amidst a global pandemic. The recent victory in the Gulf of Mexico, in which the court of appeals upheld the decision to prohibit offshore aquaculture is indicative of our power when we stand together. Now, it’s important to direct that power to voice our dissent with the latest push for the AQUAA act.
As we near the end of summer, we’re stoked to celebrate fishing communities across the nation that have proved their innovation and resiliency during this pandemic. Even though our pleas for Congress to expand the stimulus packages in support of these communities have yet to be fully realized, we’ve made strong strides. Just last week the Senate passed a stimulus bill that designates $500M for fisheries. This is from our hard work and relentless pushing. But it’s not over yet. As we work tirelessly to hold Congress accountable, let’s continue to hype the communities of fishers who have been working from dawn to dusk (and to dawn again) to provide us with healthy seafood. Over the past couple of months, we’ve seen incredible stories uplifted by our networks and during the past couple of weeks, we’ve been spotlighting our own series that gives an inside look at what #FishingDuringCOVID19 has meant for these communities.