Speaking Up for Science-Based Fishery Management in the U.S.
Chef Sammy Monsour — co-owner of renowned Preux & Proper and South City Fried Chicken in Los Angeles — takes his support for sustainable seafood beyond the kitchen. A passionate advocate for better food systems, he believes not only in leading by example, but also in speaking up.
"Chefs have a voice," Sammy says, "and many compelling opportunities to speak and act."
Sammy is a member of our Blue Ribbon Task Force, a group of high-profile chefs and culinary leaders raising their voices for more environmentally responsible food systems. Now, we're activating Task Force members — and their peers around the country — to defend our nation’s strong, science-based fishery management law, the Magnuson-Stevens Fisheries Conservation and Management Act.
Restaurants across the country urged their customers to speak up for sustainable U.S. fisheries during a nationwide advocacy event in support of the Magnuson-Stevens Act.
The United States has some of the world's most sustainable fisheries, thanks in large part to this law. The Magnuson-Stevens Act is also influencing the sustainability of fisheries around the globe. In recent years, government officials from Japan have engaged with Chief Conservation Officer Margaret Spring, a lead architect of the U.S. law, to help inform their own national fishery management policies. By keeping the Magnuson-Stevens Act strong here at home, we will continue to help guide progress abroad.
But in 2018, Congress introduced bills to weaken the act. We engaged chefs like Sammy — all longtime champions of sustainable U.S. seafood — to tell their federal legislators that science-based fishery management is important to their businesses.
"Congress needs to know how strong we stand," he says. "The Magnuson-Stevens Act is imperative to the health of our oceans, coastal communities and native sea species. It's also why America is a global leader when it comes to responsible fishery management. That's pretty dope, right? So let's keep it that way!"
More than 60 restaurants across the country, including Preux & Proper, participated in our #ChefsForFish event in June 2018, featuring sustainable U.S. seafood dishes on their menus and calling on customers to help defend the Magnuson-Stevens Act. The event was covered by local and national news outlets, reached over 5 million people on social media, and caught the attention of elected officials in Washington, D.C.
Chef Danielle Leoni and partner Dwayne Allen of The Breadfruit & Rum Bar.
On the same day, our chef partners sent a joint letter to Congress opposing the harmful bills. The letter emphasized that strong fishery management isn't just a fisherman's issue, or a coastal issue — it's a food issue.
The culinary community from land-locked states knows this better than most. "Fishery management may seem like a weird topic for inland chefs to get involved in," says Danielle Leoni, chef and co-owner of The Breadfruit & Rum Bar in Phoenix, Arizona. "But we all love fish. And as a businessperson, I want access to a consistent supply of sustainable seafood — even though my restaurant is hundreds of miles from the nearest coast."
Sheila Lucero, executive chef of Jax Fish House, agrees. "We may be surrounded by mountains in my home state of Colorado," she wrote in an op-ed for online culinary magazine Culinary Epicenter, "but we still have a major stake in the health of our oceans and in sustainable seafood."
Strong fishery management isn't just a fisherman's issue, or a coastal issue — it's a food issue.
In addition to authoring op-eds in major newspapers, many of our chef partners have signed on to the Portland Pact for Sustainable Seafood — a declaration of support for the Magnuson-Stevens Act and sustainable U.S. fisheries.
Leading seafood suppliers joined our effort as well, issuing a public statement opposing legislation that would undermine the Magnuson-Stevens Act. We also activated U.S. aquarium and zoo partners — along with our members, visitors and social media followers — to defend this landmark law.
Together, we were successful in defeating the threats to U.S. fishery management. We will continue to work with Congress to maintain the sustainability of America's fisheries.