Dear friend,

We passed a big milestone this past weekend marking the third anniversary of the shared-leadership model between NAMA and the National Family Farm Coalition (NFFC). Another big anniversary is around the corner, too: the day we took off on a two-month, 13,000 miles trek across rural America.

Although the aim of that trip was to help me get grounded in my new role of connecting our sea and land food systems, the trip taught me a lot more than I expected. 

What was happening on the national stage back in 2018 had led me to think that rural communities were made up of racists, sexists, xenophobic, or otherwise prejudiced individuals. Deep in my heart I knew that wasn’t true. My visit to 67 primarily rural farming, ranching, and fishing communities made me realize that rural communities aren’t a monolith and we cannot simply dismiss the concerns heard from a wide range of the population based on our own assumptions. Many of those crying out are feeling genuine pain resulting from neoliberal policies and corporate dominance of our social systems, and the longstanding failure of the mainstream political parties to address their marginalization.

So called market-based policies have led to privatization of the ocean and fishing rights, lack of access to land and water, and the gutting of infrastructure essential for successful and healthy fishing, farming, and ranching communities. These underlying inequities have hollowed out rural communities, contributing to stress, anger, and a rural mental and physical health crisis.

Such policies have led to many in rural communities not being valued for their work, and therefore not able to make ends meet. The consequences go beyond any one single household, farm, boat, or ranch. They touch each corner of our society. 

Although some suggest these issues are new, they are rooted in neo-liberal policies that began to take root around World War II and continue through today. Along the way, policy decisions were made to gut rural America of its worth and wealth. As a result, farmers, ranchers, and now fishermen have essentially been subsidizing us to eat. All the while many of these food providers are standing in line at food banks because they themselves can't afford to put food on their table. No wonder there is unrest in rural America.

We need to take responsibility for not seeing what had clearly been brewing in rural America for a long time. Rural communities and urban dwellers have a lot in common but both are told to fear and hate those who don’t look, eat, pray, or speak like them. These differences are being exploited by the same companies, policies, and forces who are stealing our natural, spiritual, economic, and social resources.

Amidst all this pain and hate there are beacons of hope; and I believe our work to take back the ocean commons serves as one of those beacons. 

Our strength comes from building a movement led by fishermen and farmers – the first set of hands that touch our food – willing to fight for policies that ensure all those who feed us can make a living.

Niaz Dorry
Coordinating Director

When it comes to fishing businesses, all too often we see fishermen not getting paid a fair price that covers their true cost of overhead. We call this 'fishing in the red'.

Farmers face similar challenges and so, to continue learning from how our family farmers are seeking solutions, we took part in webinar series Disparity to Parity: Balancing the Scales hosted by National Family Farm Coalition, Federation of Southern Cooperatives, and American University Center for the Environment, Community, and Equity

Recording is available here. Keep your eyes out for more to come in this series.

Diane Wilson, a 4th Generation shrimper is on her 27th day of a hunger strike. Diane is calling for the Biden administration to revoke permits to dredge the mercury-contaminated Matagorda Ship Channel for a crude oil export project.

If the permit is approved, the proposed dredging would unearth potentially devastating mercury contamination, devastating fisheries that local communities of Lavaca Bay are working to restore and revitalize. In solidarity with Diane’s efforts, last week, 81 representatives of fishing communities and environmental and health organizations, including NAMA, sent a letter to the Biden administration, urging the President to revoke the authorization for the proposed dredging. 

Follow Diane’s journey on Facebook, and follow her on Twitter and Tik Tok @unreasonablewoman

As a member of the New Economy Coalition (NEC) we have deep gratitude for this network’s support around fishing and seafood businesses. Whether by carving out space for fisher/farmer workshops at their Common Bound gatherings, lifting up the Local Catch Network, or weighing-in on policy, NEC has been there for our fisheries network. That’s why we felt compelled to respond to NEC’s Black Solidarity Economy Fund, run by and for Black solidarity economy organizers in the NEC network, by contributing .1% of our NAMA budget to the fund. If you can, we encourage you to do the same. In solidarity.
NAMA and collaborators helped shut down a bill that would open the doors to industrial aquaculture off the coast of California! AB 303, “Aquaculture: mariculture production and restoration: pilot programs” has been pulled and will no longer be on the CA voting docket this year.

The bill would increase the area available for aquaculture while decreasing oversight; both recipes for disaster. Though the bill could resurface next year, allies including Friends of the Earth, Environmental Defense Center, Heal the Bay, Coastwalk California, California Coastal Protection Network, Environmental Action Committee of West Marin, and NAMA feel ready to continue the fight for our ocean. These allies have sent a sign-on letter of opposition to the Natural Resources Committee spelling out the many reasons this bill is bad for CA. 

To learn more about NAMA's take on aquaculture, check out our collaborative report, The Foodprint of Farmed Seafood.
Local Catch Network is asking folks involved to take 10 minutes and fill out this feedback survey. Let LCN know how it's been, how it's going, and what direction you'd like to see the network go. The network is informed by the many great fishers in the network and this survey helps us make sure that stays true.

Thanks to the 100+ (mostly fishing businesses) who filled out the survey so far.
The challenge has wrapped up, but if you missed any days, would like to revisit any of the resources, or do it at your own pace, check here for the resources.

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.