How Fishing Interests Infiltrated Conservation’s Biggest Event” by Nick Grube is a good example of how one of Civil Beat’s smiling imps makes nice to Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council staff who are quite happy and open to questions. Then he does a hatchet job full of insinuations and half-truths.

Shame on us, we never learn, but then again if we’d remained imperious and silent, we’d still get knifed between the ribs.

Kitty Simonds IUCN exhibition hall. 5 sept 2016
Kitty Simonds, executive director of the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council, at the recent IUCN World Conservation Congress meetings in Honolulu. Cory Lum/Civil Beat

Applying and then being granted membership of the International Union for Conservation of Nature can hardly be called infiltration. The Council isn’t some form of clandestine organization bent on world domination. Implying that fishing interests have no place at IUCN is extremely narrow-minded. The majority of IUCN members recognize the importance of good management of resources, which is the Council’s function.

The IUCN 2017-2020 program has three pillars:

  1. Valuing and conserving nature;
  2. Promoting and supporting effective and equitable governance of natural resources; and
  3. Deploying nature-based solutions to address societal challenges including climate change, food security and economic and social development.

These are fully consistent with the Council’s Guiding Principles, which promote environmentally responsible sustainable fisheries and ecosystem approaches to fishery management. Further, the Council recognizes the critical importance of island cultures, particularly the role that fishing and the sea play in the lives of indigenous people of the U.S. Pacific Islands.

Grube contrasts the Council’s booth at the IUCN World Conservation Congress with the displays showcasing the beauty of the natural environment: “Pristine ocean scenes populated with tropical fish, whales and sea turtles left out the brutal realities of the global commercial fishing trade, which has been blamed for decimating fish stocks and contributing to mass human rights abuses.”

His description of the Council display makes it sound like a graveyard or mortuary. But this is the reality of fishing: Fishing kills fish so that we can eat them. The auction display is replicated daily in thousands of seaports globally.

Moreover, fisheries operating around the Northwestern Hawaiians Islands, Pacific Remote Island Areas and Rose Atoll were managed by the Council and fished sustainably for decades prior to the establishment of the Papahanaumokuakea, Pacific Remote Islands and Rose Atoll marine national monuments.

These monuments overlay the Northwestern Hawaiians Islands’ Protected Species Zone, Pacific Remote Island Areas’ no-take and low-take marine protected areas and American Samoa Large Vessel Prohibited Area established decades earlier by the Council, leaving the water so “pristine” and the ecosystem so “intact” that they were grabbed up to become marine national monuments.

Our mission, like that of the IUCN, is to conserve natural resources for future generations to use sustainably and wisely. We strongly disagree with any implication to the contrary in Civil Beat or anywhere else.

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