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Campaign protesting against Yamaha branch that supports ‘harmful’ legislation

Yamaha says Modern Fish Act would garner accurate census data and prevent overfishing, Mighty Earth campaign insists bill would harm ocean ecosystem.

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After three months of protesting in Long Beach, the Mighty Earth campaign reached its goal this month of 1,000 petition signatures– a collection of local residents, organizations and musicians– in an effort to eliminate the influence manufacturing company Yamaha has on environmental policies, a spokesperson for the campaign told the Signal Tribune.

The Yamaha Motor and Marine branches are endorsing two legislative bills that will revise and reauthorize the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, a 1976 policy promoting overfishing protections and ocean sustainability.

The Mighty Earth campaign started its mission in three regions of the United States at the end of August to prevent the reauthorizations from passing: Long Beach, Calif.; Marietta, Ga.; and New Orleans, La.
Lauren Karpinski, a Mighty Earth field organizer who leads the Long Beach campaign, told the Signal Tribune that the two legislative bills– H.R.200 and S.1520, both of which seek to “modernize” the Magnuson-Stevens Act and allow “flexibility” to overfishing restrictions in the policy– ignores science-based regulations found in the country’s existing act.

“The purpose of the campaign is about spreading awareness, because a lot of people don’t know that this Yamaha corporation either is the same one that is involved with making boat motors and, further than that, don’t know that they are lobbying in support of roadblocks for fishery protections,” Karpinski said.

Yamaha officials responded to Mighty Earth’s claims this week and countered that the bills would accomplish the opposite and collect accurate census data and manage to prevent overfishing by properly allocating the practice to commercial and recreational fishermen.

Last year, U.S. senators, led by Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), introduced S.1520, known as the Modernizing Recreational Fisheries Management Act, or the Modern Fish Act. According to the bill’s supporters, the Modern Fish Act intends to do as its name suggests– modernize the Magnuson-Stevens Act to prioritize recreational fishing and improve technology. Later in the year, U.S. representatives introduced a similar and separate bill, H.R.200.

Martin Peters, senior-communications manager with Yamaha Marine Group in Georgia, told the Signal Tribune Nov. 29 that the Modern Fish Act would be dependent upon two National Academy of Sciences studies that would serve as the basis for the amendment to the Magnuson-Stevens Act.

Peters added that the motive is to improve data-collection methods.

“The Magnuson-Stevens Act calls for data collection on the recreational sector, as well as the commercial sector,” he said. “But the recreational-sector data is collected with mail surveys. […] This is how they determine how many people are fishing, what they’re catching and how many interactions they have with those fish when fishing. There are so many better ways to do that now.”

Karpinski admitted that the Magnuson-Stevens Act does have room for improvement, but she disagrees with the tactics the Modern Fish Act would implement.

“The Modern Fish Act, the bill that Martin Peters is supporting, we are concerned about that bill specifically because it undermines annual catch limits, [and] it weakens rebuilding requirements for fish stocks […],” she said. “We want to be able to work with Yamaha Motors and collaborate on areas where we can agree, such as making updates to the technologies that can improve data collection, to further advance the science we rely on for successful fishery management.”

Karpinski confirmed with the Signal Tribune that Mighty Earth will deliver its petition signatures to Yamaha Corporation of America’s Buena Park headquarters Nov. 30 and request a meeting with company executive Tom Sumner to discuss the issue.

As Peter Giles, public-relations representative with Yamaha Corporation of America, explained to the Signal Tribune Nov. 29, the different Yamaha companies operate independently. As such, Yamaha Corporation of America and Yamaha Motor Corporation are essentially different companies, the latter of which supports the Modern Fish Act, while the former has no “position to comment, because this is not their business.”

“I find it odd that they are showing up to the Buena Park doorstep, because they don’t have any dealings with fisheries and overfishing and issues like that,” Giles said. “[…] Mighty Earth is working to get a response from people who don’t work in the fishery industry. People who don’t necessarily have knowledge of fisheries.”
Karpinski clarified that Long Beach Mighty Earth’s objective is to get Yamaha Corporation of America’s support to “sway the actions and lobby efforts of Yamaha Motors.”

“Yamaha Corporation of American has significant leverage to move Yamaha Motors toward amending their harmful policy stances,” she said.

Karpinski said that the Marietta, Ga., Mighty Earth Campaign is working to directly speak with Yamaha Motor Corporation and Peters to discuss the issue, claiming that the campaign submitted its own set of petition signatures to Peters, but he was not willing to discuss the matter.

Peters clarified that Yamaha initially suggested meeting with Mighty Earth to discuss the bill to pass the group’s concerns on to staff and legislators, but “they have consistently refused to meet in this constructive way.”

The Yamaha Motor Corporation attached a press release to its Twitter account Nov. 16 that denied the Georgia Mighty Earth campaign’s claims that the company is negligent about ocean sustainability, listing out examples of its environmental efforts, such as advocating for legislation that protects water quality in the U.S.– S.756– and starting the marine-plastics removal program.

Both bills are moving through Congress. The Modern Fish Act passed the House of Representatives in August and is on the Senate floor.

Mighty Earth’s petition can be found at mightyearth.org/its-time-to-fishyamahaout-take-action-today/.
Information about the bills can be found at the following:

  • H.R.200: congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/house-bill/200
  • S.1520: congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/senate-bill/1520
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Campaign protesting against Yamaha branch that supports ‘harmful’ legislation