Dear friend,

Last week my son turned 3-years-old and my daughter 3-months-old. My children are the 14th generation descendants of the Pilgrims who arrived on the Mayflower and I’ve been thinking a lot about our history. What legacy did my ancestors leave? How did they shape our present world?

In some ways that legacy is captured in a quote by Mr. Frank James of the Aquinnah Wampanoag:

“History wants us to believe that the Indian was a savage, illiterate uncivilized animal. A history that was written to expose us as an unorganized and undisciplined entity”. 

In 1970 the Commonwealth of Massachusetts invited Mr. Frank James to make a speech as part of a 350-year celebration of the Pilgrim’s arrival. Mr. James was many things to many people including a fisherman, teacher, musician, and founder of the United American Indians of New England (UAINE). Because his speech was based in history, rather than the mythology version of Thanksgiving event planners preferred, they uninvited him. To protest the silencing, he gathered supporters and gave his uncensored speech at Cole’s Hill overlooking Plymouth Harbor. 

Reading Mr. James’ words, I can see a linkage to what I’ve heard from fishermen (folks like my family) over the years. I hear fishermen from coast to coast express anger that they’ve been deemed greedy, ignorant, pillagers of the ocean whose time has passed. I hear fishermen express hopelessness each time another outside investment firm buys massive amounts of fishing rights. I’ve personally witnessed fishermen getting silenced by those in power when their mics were turned off during public hearings. And every day I watch a global food system that invisibilizes and marginalizes our food producers.

Ultimately, I believe the problems that non-indigenous, white folks like myself see in our fishing communities today are manifestations of what began when my ancestors arrived 400 years ago. This means that in order to tackle today’s problems in earnest, we must learn from the past and center our solutions around those who’ve been longest impacted by these problems. Otherwise, we’re bound to continue repeating the history with the brunt of the impact shouldered by black, indigenous, and people of color.

As a father, my commitment to my family is to apply these lessons to our lives so we can take part in building a more equitable future for all. This is also the commitment we are making at NAMA: to learn from the wisdom of the past to forge a different path ahead. That’s what our work is all about, and I invite you to join us in this learning to address the challenges facing our fishing communities in the future.

With gratitude,
Brett Tolley
NAMA's National Program Coordinator
In the month of November NAMA would like to pay special attention to indigenous fishing communities and our indiegnous allies. It is important that all of us pay attention to our specific privileges and reflect on the current and historical bloodshed that exists against indigenous communities everywhere. Please check out the following North American organizations to learn more about the history and current struggles facing indigenous folks on this continent. 

In addition, if you are in the market for buying seafood, please consider supporting these businesses who support and/or are led by indigenous fishermen:
A group of allies led by the Center for Food Safety has spent years fighting the good fight in a lawsuit challenging the Food & Drug Administration's approval of genetically engineered salmon. In a recent decision, a federal court ruled the FDA violated core environmental laws by ignoring the potential ecological impacts of genetically engineered salmon on endangered wild salmon if it were to escape into the wild. The court ordered the FDA to thoroughly analyze the potential environmental consequences of such an escape. Although the court did not vacate the approval and AquaBounty is still allowed to produce GMO salmon, this decision sets a crucial precedent. Well done, legal team!!
In November the public comment period to the Army Corps of Engineers ended for industrial aquaculture project Velella Epsilon. We are glad that we fought for the opportunity to open up a comment period and are grateful to all of those who commented. We must keep the pressure on. Here are letter samples you can send to your congressperson and senators to tell them why you don’t support the AQUAA Act which would rapidly accelerate harmful Industrial Aquaculture. 
The Ocean-Based Climate Solutions Act, introduced by House Natural Resources Committee Chair, Rep. Raul M. Grijalva (D-AZ), proposes a mixed bag of measures to "leverage the ocean's potential in the fight against climate change." These measures include promoting offshore renewable energy, rebuilding and protecting coastal ecosystems that store carbon, improving ocean health, supporting "climate-ready fisheries" and seafood responsibly "caught in the USA," and expanding marine protected areas to 30% of the ocean under US jurisdiction by 2030 (the 30x30 provision). You can read the full text here and a fact-sheet here

NAMA welcomes investments in ocean health and coastal restoration, research on fisheries and climate change, and marketing of responsibly caught domestic seafood. However, we are concerned about aspects of this legislation that favor blanket prohibitions on commercial fishing rather than a more nuanced, ecosystem-based and community-based approach to fisheries management. Additionally, we are wary of provisions that contradict the bill's environmental goals, such as deploying 30,000 megawatts of offshore wind by 2030, and creating an Inter-Agency Ocean Exploration Committee to work on developing and deploying advanced technologies to explore the ocean.
Thanks to our allies, the US Army Corps of Engineers denied a critical permit to a Pebble mine in Alaska. This news comes as a victory to wild salmon, indegnous communities and fisher folk. The opposition to Pebble brought together commercial, recreational, and subsistence fisher folk; indigenous and non-indigenous communities; different political interests; different business interests, and more. 
NAMA is a fishermen-led organization building a broad movement toward healthy fisheries and fishing communities.

We build deep and trusting relationships with community based fisherman, crew, fishworkers and allies to create effective policy and market strategies.