No on I-732, a weak, costly distraction from the real work of cutting carbon emissions

This op-ed by Pete Knutson and Hing Ng (from the November 2016 edition of Pacific Fishing) reflects the analysis of the Working Group on Seafood and Energy, Global Ocean Health, and other organizations that worked with us to assess carbon policies around the world and determine which ones are strong enough to protect healthy seas and fisheries (and which ones fall short). After months of careful evaluation, the Working Group determined that a revenue neutral carbon tax proposed in Washington state would be weak, costly, and would obstruct better policies.  The Working Group formally voted to oppose Initiative 732, a Washington state ballot measure, and to advocate stronger measures instead.

By Pete Knutson and Hing Ng

Knutson family 2011We’ve been fishing and direct marketing our salmon since before Ronald Reagan stripped the solar panels off the White House roof. In those days, the roaring two-cycle 6-71 in our old gillnetter was still considered clean and efficient enough to power a working boat. We fought to prevent oil spills and to protect salmon habitat, and not long ago we switched most of our production from air freight to freezer barges to reduce costs and carbon pollution. But until recently, hardly anyone understood how heavily our family business – and the seafood industry as a whole – depends on protecting oceans and rivers from the rising consequences of pollution from burning fossil fuels.

We have learned the hard way. In the last decade, it has become painfully obvious that emissions from coal, oil, and gas are already eroding Northwest fisheries, undercutting the future of both wild seafood and farmed shellfish.

We have no time to waste in confronting this gathering storm. That’s why we’re opposing Washington’s Initiative 732, which will be on ballots Nov. 8. Despite its good intentions, this “revenue neutral carbon tax” proposal is too weak to work, and it would obstruct better policies. As urgently as we need a carbon solution, we need it to be a real one. I-732 offers false hope.

It cannot cut emissions deeply enough to protect our waters, our harvests, and our climate.

Worse yet, Initiative I-732 would block the door to far more effective carbon policies that our state has a chance to adopt as soon as 2017. If you depend on healthy oceans, we urge you to vote this one down and work for stronger measures.

Carbon pollution does more than drive climate change, causing fish-killing hot spells in rivers and helping to crash Northwest salmon runs. It also acidifies seawater, undercuts planktonic foodwebs, clobbers larval shellfish, and increases both the growth and toxicity of poisonous algae blooms. Last winter, West Coast Dungeness crabbers lost most of their season because the fishery was shut down to protect consumers from a massive toxic algae bloom. That bloom also closed Washington’s razor clam fishery.

The Northwest is now viewed as the world’s “front line” in the struggle against acidification and other consequences of carbon pollution in the ocean.

We wish we could support I-732. Hundreds of volunteers worked hard to put it on the ballot. Unfortunately, this measure is fatally flawed. It would hoover up urgently needed funds from the proposed carbon tax and give away the money in tax breaks for business and the working poor.

It might even run deep into the red. Advocates of the measure contest this, but Washington’s Office of Financial Management estimated I-732 would dole out nearly $800 million more than it raises during its first six years (see tinyurl.com/j9awjfb).

Don’t get us wrong. Putting a price on carbon pollution is necessary. But giving away the money cripples the purpose of this initiative.

We can do far better by reinvesting the proceeds to grow a cleaner economy. Nine states from Maine to Maryland have slashed emissions from big power plants – far outperforming British Columbia’s revenue-neutral carbon tax – while accelerating job growth. How? They reinvest the money from a price on emissions to solve the carbon problem. The money from carbon pricing is pooled and invested in projects that help people afford to reduce pollution by burning less fuel, buying cleaner engines, insulating homes and buildings, upgrading inefficient cold storage and factory equipment, and switching to renewables and cleaner energy sources.

Initiative 732 can only drive up fuel prices. If that were a recipe for deep reductions in pollution, we might support this measure. It isn’t. Because I-732 fails to reinvest the money in energy solutions, it can deliver only a fraction of the emissions cuts required by existing Washington law.

A carbon price is too important to squander the proceeds.

Giving away the money in tax breaks also means I-732 would deny Washington the chance to join the growing network of states and nations (40 now and growing, with China climbing on board in 2017) that pool resources to combat the carbon problem. Washington would have nothing to contribute to the hat, so we would lose access to potential investments from other regions. We would be trying to “go it alone” against a global problem.

What about the extra money you would pay at the pump? Well, some of it would give Boeing yet another huge tax break.

We have real opportunities to solve the carbon problem. This measure isn’t one of them.

A sound policy would help finance projects that reduce emissions or bury carbon in soil and long-lasting products. Fishermen could benefit from investments to help drive down fuel consumption. That might even help our family replace our old 6-71, an inefficient but unstoppable diesel that first entered production in the 1930s.

It’s time for the seafood industry to champion stronger policies to protect healthy waters from carbon emissions. If you vote in Washington, vote no on I-732. Then put a shoulder to the wheel for real solutions.

How? Join the Working Group for Seafood and Energy (seafoodandenergy.org). It’s a forum for fishermen, growers, tribes, and fishery-dependent communities to pursue our shared goal of protecting fisheries and oceans from carbon emissions. This group helps us make a difference without eating up all our time. The Working Group was created at the request of industry and tribal leaders and is led by Brad Warren, a former editor of this magazine.

Peter Knutson and Hing Ng run Seattle-based Loki Fish Co. with their sons, Jonah and Dylan.

Sea Change – Supply challenges and climate changes are forcing the U.S. seafood industry to adapt

March 2015, By Sherry Daye Scott, QSR Magazine

California-based fast casual Slapfish, which serves a range of premium seafood items—including a Bowl of Shrimp either chilled or fried—partners with Aquarium of the Pacific to develop and maintain a sustainable sourcing plan.

California-based fast casual Slapfish, which serves a range of premium seafood items—including a Bowl of Shrimp either chilled or fried—partners with Aquarium of the Pacific to develop and maintain a sustainable sourcing plan.

Though U.S. consumption is well below other proteins today, seafood will likely be an increasingly important part of the American diet in the years to come. The country’s population is predicted to grow by 89 million between 2010 and 2050 to 401 million people. More people require more food—and land limitations mean the beef, pork, and poultry industries can only produce so much volume.

Increased domestic consumption will have a direct impact on restaurant operators who serve finfish and shellfish. On one hand, more Americans eating seafood means the potential for increased sales. On the other, it also means the potential for higher wholesale prices. And while space limitations largely don’t affect the seafood industry, it has its own challenges to contend with, especially in the U.S.

For starters, more than 90 percent of the seafood the U.S. consumes is imported from countries with their own growing demand for protein. China, the global seafood producer and processor leader, is experiencing a rise in its middle class. China used to be a net exporter of seafood, but now it’s a net importer. The same is true of other seafood-producing countries in Asia and South America.

“If I am a buyer of seafood,” says Sebastian Belle, executive director of the Maine Aquaculture Association (MAA), “global demand is going to make it harder for me to source.”

In addition, climate changes are forcing suppliers to reevaluate their sourcing practices and invest in new practices, like aquaculture. These challenges have all levels of seafood stakeholders looking at new ways to approach the present—and future—state of the seafood industry.

Read more here

Seafood Producer’s Guide to Reducing Emissions, v1.1

Global Ocean Health is often asked what seafood producers can do to reduce their carbon emissions. While the emissions produced by the entire worldwide fishing industry are just a fraction of a fraction of a percent of global greenhouse gas production, if we want to stand as stewards of the ocean, it’s better to, “Walk the walk, not just talk the talk.” If seafood producers act as drivers for change, then being able to show you’ve made the effort to cut your own emissions footprint makes your stance more credible. Tackling ocean acidification involves not only driving better education, research, and policy, but also doing your bit to reduce emissions.

For the first time, accurate energy audits have been conducted on small commercial fishing vessels in Alaska, as part of a program initiated by the Alaska Fisheries Development Foundation (AFDF) and Sea Grant. “People in Alaska are familiar with home energy audits and this is basically a similar concept but on a fishing vessel. It becomes more complicated because there are more systems and different types of activities when you’re operating in different fisheries, things like that,” says Julie Decker, Director of AFDF.

The results from the 12 boats in phase one of the study were incorporated into an Energy Analysis Tool to help fishermen understand their vessel’s energy use and what equipment and operational changes could improve usage. In phase two, AFDF plans to launch a simpler version of the survey available via smartphone or over the web and is looking for more vessels to volunteer to participate. “You can see how much your hydraulics are using, or the main engine is drawing when you’re running around from fishery to fishery or how much your DC and AC systems are drawing, whether it’s for refrigeration, or what not,” says Decker. Go to their website to learn more about their energy audits, and read the story on AFDF’s search for volunteer vessels.

The list of possible actions in our guide is by no means complete, and we’d like to hear from you to help us improve it. Have you or your business done something that successfully reduced your carbon output, or encouraged others to do so? How did it turn out as a return on investment? Many companies find they end up saving money when they institute cuts in energy or fuel usage. We’d love to hear your stories, whether concerning your car, home, vessel, or company. And if you have questions for us, feel free to email info@globaloceanhealth. Thanks for reading, and happy fishing.

A few examples:

• Reduce vessel weight – weight control reduces the amount of power necessary to achieve a certain speed

• Maintain the bottom – in order to reduce drag, keep the bottom of the boat as smooth as possibly by removing marine growth and any other unnecessary elements

• Check the exhaust – exhaust from a well-maintained diesel engine is almost invisible

• Check the prop – bent blades, dings, or eroded edges cause the boat to consume more fuel

• Plan the route and timing – taking advantage of tides, currents, and predicted winds can easily save a lot of fuel

• Use a fuel meter on boats, and adjust the throttle to find the “sweet spot” in RPM where fuel consumption drops but speed is sufficient to meet the tides and delivery schedules (see graph below). Installing a simple device like a FloScan meter can help skippers optimize fuel use and vessel speed

• If you run an auxiliary diesel genset or two on your boat, consider a high-efficiency hydraulic generator from GenTech Global- Used with a good fuel meter, this system uses a proprietary software controller to run a generator directly off the main engine (no matter the rpm of the main), replacing a diesel genset, and cutting the cost of generating onboard electrical power in half—or better. The system is particularly valuable for some working vessels that need power for pumps, refrigeration, and other onboard systems

• Consider a Fitch fuel catalyst on your vessel engine. This simple device enhances fuel combustion; reduces emissions, injector fouling, and fuel consumption

• If you ship seafood, avoid airfreight wherever possible- Ship by water if you can, by rail or road otherwise. Airfreight dominates embedded emissions in most products that are shipped by air; it dwarfs everything else

picture of fuel efficiency• Slow down – This graph (extracted from a fuel efficiency audit) shows that increasing speeds greatly increases the power necessary and therefore the amount of fuel consumed. Decreasing your speed by just 1 knots could reduce your fuel cost by as much as 50%

• Got food waste or seafood processing waste? Compost it, or make fuel out of it. If it goes to the landfill, this waste frequently will form methane in the anoxic conditions below ground. Methane has ~21 times the insulating, warming power of CO2. A well-aerated compost pile converts the carbon into new soil material, where it becomes a useful nutrient instead of forming methane. You can also set up a simple biogas digester in a barrel and use it to generate fuel. If you burn it instead of venting it, biogas can replace commercially purchased fuel, shifting some of your energy demand to a carbon-neutral status. Instructions to do this are readily available on YouTube

• Ask your employees- Let your employees know that lowering energy costs and carbon emissions is important to your company. They may have a different perspective that could save you money and make your business greener.

• Don’t run more electrical than you need. Make certain that both on-shore and on-vessel you are not creating needless electrical draw. Turn computers completely off when not in use, as well as chargers, lights, printers – whatever the device, ensuring that small details are taken care of can make a real difference to your bottom line

• Consider adding a wind-powered charger or solar panels

• Keep good records- You only know whether you’re making an improvement (or making things worse) if you have good numbers on vessel performance, both before and after changes. At every fuel-up you should record fuel replaced, operating hours (from your hour meter or engine hour logbook), and if possible, distance traveled. Other observations such as changes in coolant and exhaust temperatures, oil temperatures and pressures, and speed over the ground (as indicated by GPS or LORAN readings) should be logged

• Do the math- Fuel is only one of the costs of your operation. You can’t manage what you don’t measure! Capital expenditure (the price of new equipment) and the value of your time and that of your crew are also costs. The cost of a solution, such as buying a new engine or even a new vessel, may be greater than the savings that could be realized. As fish prices, fuel costs, regulations, and other factors change, it is important to recalculate the trade-offs

• At home, work, or on-vessel – unplug, unplug, unplug. It’s convenient to keep that cell phone charger plugged in, and no harm done, right? Wrong. It continues to draw power even when no device is charging. Many electronics draw power even when turned off  – especially cable boxes; but also DVD/BluRay players, stereos, gaming consoles, etc. And don’t walk away with your computer on – screensavers or “sleep mode” are not the same as off. All these little things add up, and besides making a difference collectively, you might even see a drop in your monthly electricity costs.

RESOURCES:
Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association Fuel Efficiency Initiative
Alaska Sea Grant Marine Advisory Program

Shopping on Amazon will Donate to Global Ocean Health at no Cost to You

Brad-Warren-2012Please support us with your holiday shopping this season – it won’t cost you an extra penny, and every bit helps! Your support is HUGELY appreciated. Thank you in advance! All donations will go directly to the Global Ocean Health program. Simply click on the link below to choose National Fisheries Conservation Center as your charity of choice and %.5 of your purchase will be donated to Global Ocean Health (a joint initiative of National Fisheries Conservation Center and Sustainable Fisheries Partnership). Every little bit helps in our fight to keep stakeholders properly prepared to fight the effects of ocean acidification, and we greatly appreciate any help you can give.

CAM00395And if you feel inspired to give a little more, please choose the paypal donation button on the right of this page, to donate any amount from $2 and up! It’s fully tax-deductible. We here at GOH pour our hearts into this program, and donate much of our time. We have been crucial leaders in the fight to save the the west coast oyster industry and reach out to coastal and fishery stakeholders, giving them a voice in the struggle (just check out our accomplishments section for a few stories of many). It would mean the world to us if you could find it in your heart to make a small donation toward our cause.

We wish you a joyous and peaceful holiday season, and look forward to continuing the fight to protect our productive ocean and abundant fisheries in 2015, with your support. GOH is Protecting Seafood at the Source, reaching across party lines to bring meaningful change to stakeholder protections and ensure ocean acidification research receives the support it needs to prepare us for the future. Thanks to all of you who have supported us on the way, and all of you that will support us in the future. We have big plans ahead.

Warmest Regards,
Brad Warren, Julia Sanders, & the rest of the team

 

The Magnuson Act: It’s a Keeper – Commentary

Two recent articles have come out based on a paper co-written with one of our board members, Suzanne Iudicello, and our Director, Brad Warren. This is the first article.

Rollcall.com. May 7th, 2014, By Eric Shwaab and Bill Hogarth

Healthy oceans and well-managed fisheries improve coastal economies, enhance recreational fishing opportunities and provide fresh, local seafood to consumers. And while many fisheries around the world are in serious decline, the United States benefits from one of the most sustainable and profitable fisheries management systems in the world. It is a system that is built on sound science and incorporates strong local input from fishermen and others. Under current law, our management practices are rebuilding many depleted stocks of fish and ensuring a sustainable fishing future for fishing communities long struggling with a variety of economic and environmental challenges.

The Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, introduced in 1976, which has been at the center of much of this progress, is presently before Congress for reauthorization. Initially, the law used subsidies and other programs to provide access to and manage what was perceived as a near-limitless supply of fish. Over time, however, many of our iconic fisheries — such as the New England cod and Gulf of Mexico red snapper — became severely depleted. In response, fishermen, conservation groups and congressional leaders came together in 1996 and again in 2006 to improve the law and protect our fishermen’s livelihoods. These changes formed the foundation of our current sustainable fisheries management system.

As former directors of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Fisheries Service, we were both fortunate to have been present and helped implement these key bipartisan reforms to the Magnuson Act. These reforms have demonstrably improved the health of our oceans, sustainability of our fish stocks and the viability of many local fishing economies. We especially appreciate the hard work of fishermen, regional fishery managers, scientists, and conservation groups who continue to implement these policy advances on the water.

Overfishing (catching fish faster than they can reproduce) is now at an all-time low, and both 2011 and 2012 saw record recovery of depleted fish stocks. A recent status report detailed a total of 34 species have been returned to healthy levels in the past 13 years, including scallops, whiting and king mackerel. All fish populations in the United States are now managed under science-based plans. The act also has safeguards against overfishing and long-term depletion. And we know these plans are working: Recent analysis shows that 90 percent of fisheries have successfully stayed within science-based catch limits.

Read more here