Cunningham Introduces the Climate-Ready Fisheries Act of 2019

October 15, 2019
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – Today, Rep. Joe Cunningham introduced the Climate-Ready Fisheries Act of 2019, bipartisan legislation to help Lowcountry fisheries manage the current and anticipated impact of climate change. Reps. Brian Mast (R-FL), Francis Rooney (R-FL), and Jared Huffman (D-CA) are original cosponsors.

The Climate-Ready Fisheries Act of 2019 directs the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to examine what actions have already been taken by fishery managers, identify whether any knowledge or funding gaps are hindering action, and provide recommendations for how we can better adapt fishery management, and prepare fishing industries and communities for the impacts of climate change. It also directs the GAO to offer recommendations for how Congress can enhance our nation’s science and management systems to better address climate change.

“Lowcountry fishermen are some of the hardest working people in South Carolina, and climate change has put their way of life under direct attack. The Climate-Ready Fisheries Act gives our fishermen the tools they need to continue fishing sustainably for generations to come” said Rep. Joe Cunningham. “Ultimately, well-managed fisheries are resilient fisheries. I’m proud to introduce this bipartisan legislation to help us learn what is working, what is not, and how we can be the best possible stewards of our natural resources.” 

“Healthy waterways are critical to our environment and economy—supporting the businesses in our communities that rely on fishing and tourism to thrive,” Rep. Brian Mast (R-FL) said. “This bill will go a long way to protect our local fisheries and promote healthier ecosystems for generations to come.”

“Climate change is affecting our nation’s fisheries and our adjacent oceans’ ecosystems. The Climate-Ready Fisheries Act is an important first step in assuring that we have the information we need so we are prepared to adapt our fisheries to mitigate these impacts,” said Rep. Francis Rooney (R-FL).

“Fishermen across the country are already seeing the impacts of climate change,” said Rep. Jared Huffman (D-CA). “It is critical - now more than ever - that Congress take a close look at ways to support and improve the science-based tools that are needed in the face of ocean and coastal change. The Climate Ready Fisheries Act will ensure fisheries and communities are resilient for future generations.”

The Climate Ready Fisheries Act of 2019 has support from Ocean Conservancy, National Audubon Society, Earthjustice, Oceana, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Conservation Voters of South Carolina, Coastal Conservation League, and the Marine Fish Conservation Network.

“From our tourism industry to Charleston's food scene, South Carolinians rely on a healthy ocean to support our way of life and economy. Rep. Cunningham’s fisheries bill will give our state and local governments the information they need to defend our coastal economy and ensure our fisheries are resilient in the face of a changing climate. Congressman Cunningham has already shown he's an ocean champion, and this bill once again shows his continued leadership to protect our oceans and our way of life,” Natalie Olson, Campaigns Director at Conservation Voters of South Carolina.

“We already know that climate change is taking a toll on our fisheries. The big question we now face is what we can do to ensure healthy fish populations and fishing communities for generations to come, despite a changing ocean. The Climate-Ready Fisheries Act will help ensure our fisheries and fishing communities are prepared to deal with climate change by positioning Congress to address barriers and develop solutions to these growing challenges. Ocean Conservancy applauds Congressman Cunningham’s leadership on this important issue,” said Meredith Moore, Ocean Conservancy’s Fish Conservation Program Director.

“Rising ocean temperatures and ocean acidification are radically altering aquatic ecosystems. As we plan for a healthy, resilient future, we need to better understand the full relationship between fisheries and our changing climate. This bill will allow communities to make decisions about stewarding our ocean resources based on the best available science and understanding,” said Laura Cantral, Executive Director of the Coastal Conservation