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Fishing to Play Key Role in Next Decade of Conservation Efforts

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Members of the Maine fishing industry are among those looking forward to having a seat at the table, to make progress toward the White House’s goal to protect 30% of U.S. ocean waters by 2030.

The U.S. Interior Department released its “America the Beautiful” report last week, which outlines steps to restore biodiversity, curb climate change and increase access to natural spaces.

Ben Martens, executive director of the Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association, said it’s important to bring together different stakeholders, including the fishing industry, to make decisions such as where and when to designate protected marine areas.

“Fishermen are the best conservationists that we have,” Martens contended. “They need fish in the oceans to make a living. They need more fish in the oceans to build a future.”

Martens added fishermen are experts in marine resources and the ocean ecosystem, and argued it’s key moving forward to build trust between people managing conservation projects, the scientists and the fishermen.

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He noted the divide has been growing between those who make decisions and those who are impacted by the decisions.

David Levine, co-founder and president of the American Sustainable Business Council, said having a healthy environment is critical for the well-being of the economy and diverse business sectors, from the fishing and tourism industries relying on high biodiversity, to the agriculture and beverage-production industries requiring clean water and more.

He cited the wide range of needs for launching an initiative called Businesses for Conservation and Climate Action.

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“We just think it could accomplish multiple things: protecting our environment, addressing the climate crisis, and helping communities and sustainable business thrive as a part of it,” Levine stated.

The report highlights eight key principles for the next ten years of American conservation efforts, including committing to collaborating with key stakeholders, agencies and tribes, supporting locally led conservation projects and honoring tribal sovereignty and private property rights.

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