AN OPEN LETTER TO THE WSL

World Surf League,

As members of the fishing, surfing, diving, and paddle sports communities, we greatly appreciate We Are One Ocean’s dedication to protecting our global oceans and commend you for including a few participants from the scuba and sailing worlds in this effort. We are writing to request that the voice of one of the largest utilizers of the ocean resource—the fishing community—is included as well.

We all agree that the ocean is in desperate need of our help. A campaign focusing on plastic pollution, ocean acidification, biodiversity, freshwater runoff, and regulation of global fishing fleets is of critical importance. Effectively addressing these threats to biodiversity must however come with a stakeholder-driven process. Specifically, that means a conversation around protected areas allowing for well-managed and sustainable wildlife-dependent activities.

Our community has demonstrated proven strategies (seasonal closures, bag and size limits, elimination of destructive gear, etc.) that have restored many inshore saltwater fisheries and certainly earned us a key voice in this conversation. We look forward to engaging in a dialog around your definition of “low impact fishing,” along with the roles and authorities for those charged with carrying out any potential 30x30 initiatives that you support.

Like surfers, our community requires access to pursue our passion. We know that the WSL does not intend to inadvertently ban fishing access. However, without representation in the process, we have no assurance that our access will not be negatively impacted. Many of the emotion-based arguments made for recreational fishing closures could one day be applied to beach and surfing access. As a final note of caution, we encourage the WSL to only support practically applied science-based conservation efforts.

The companies below are but a few who make a living on and from the ocean, each interacting with the resource in a unique and personal way. Our industries require a healthy ocean to survive. As a collective group, we encourage the WSL to suspend the promotion of their petition and sit down with these companies along with organizations that can speak for fishing interests like Keep America Fishing and the Coastal Conservation Association. We look forward to discussing how We Are One Ocean can best be molded into something that works to enhance both the marine resource and the use of that resource.

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