The Paris Agreement: Administration Policy on Climate Change at Odds with Science

Last week, President Trump announced the U.S. will exit the Paris Climate Agreement, prompting an outcry from business leaders, state and local governments, and the environmental community. The announcement followed the release of the President’s Fiscal Year 2018 Budget proposal to Congress which included sharp cuts to a number of critical programs that fund climate change research and resilience.

“It appears that there is a fundamental disconnect between the well-documented science and the policy approach of the current administration on climate change” said Doug Austen, Executive Director of the American Fisheries Society. “The move to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris Agreement coupled with the President’s proposed budget cuts signals a clear lack of support for an issue that is critical for the future of aquatic resources and is of utmost importance to those charged with protecting and managing those species and their habitats.”

Published, peer-reviewed research in AFS journals provides a sound scientific basis for climate change-related impacts to fisheries from high mountains to open oceans. Aquatic resources will be affected as habitats shift, sea level rises, the ocean acidifies, and water temperature increases. More frequent and severe storms, flooding, and droughts will also adversely affect freshwater and marine species.

An important goal of AFS is to provide policy makers with the best available science and management information to support the development of sound fisheries policies. There has never been a more important time for our membership to be engaged and supportive of these efforts. For maximum impact, AFS also joins other environmental, professional, and trade organizations in support of federal policies, programs, and initiatives that are critical for fisheries and aquatic resource professionals, including climate change research and resilience.

Help us tell your story! Let us know how the proposed budget cuts will affect your work. Personal accounts will strengthen our message. Also, write a personal letter or propose that your local AFS Chapter write a letter to your state and federal elected leaders. AFS policy staff are available to assist you!

For your reference, AFS has been deeply engaged in the complex intersection of climate and fisheries. In 2001, AFS hosted a symposium on the topic, resulting in AFS Special Publication 32, Fisheries in a Changing Climate. That book served as the basis for a summary and policy statement on the effects of climate on fisheries, approved in 2010. Our concerns were also shared with President Obama in an exchange of letters in 2013. In July 2016, AFS published a special issue of Fisheries on climate change research, management and policy. Most recently, in October 2016, AFS released “The Future of the Nation’s Aquatic Resources” which lays out 12 critical fisheries issues for policy-makers, almost all of which have a connection to climate change. Links to each document are provided below.

For further reading:

AFS Special Publication 32 – see https://fisheries.org/bookstore/all-titles/afs-symposia/x54032xm/

AFS Background document and policy statement on fisheries and climate change – see https://fisheries.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/policy_33f.pdf

AFS correspondence in 2013 with President Obama on climate change and fisheries – see a joint letter with other groups at: https://s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/fisheries/website+pdfs/AFS%2BPOLICY%2BLETTER-President-Obama-Adaptation-Letter-3-11-13.pdf. See AFS letter at:

AFS Special issue of Fisheries Magazine – see  http://afs.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/03632415.2016.1205860

AFS publication on the “Future of the Nation’s Fisheries and Aquatic Resources” –see https://fisheries.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/Web-Policy-Brochure2.pdf.