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VIDEO: Environmental group targets Yamaha for its involvement in Modern Fish Act

Yamaha has invested in teaching catch-and-release anglers how to reduce fish mortality.

Yamaha has invested in teaching catch-and-release anglers how to reduce fish mortality.

Environmental group Mighty Earth, which has made international headlines for its advocacy efforts around deforestation associated with the cocoa industry and reduction of carbon in steel production, is now targeting Yamaha.

The group launched a national campaign against Yamaha for its work on the Modern Fish Act, a bipartisan bill that would separate commercial fishing from recreational angling under the Magnuson Stevens Act, the law that governs national saltwater fishing policy.

Mighty Earth organized petitions and has called on Yamaha music enthusiasts to boycott the brand in an effort to stop overfishing.

Advocates at Mighty Earth, with headquarters in Long Beach, Calif., as well as in Georgia, where Yamaha Motor Corp. is located, told the Long Beach Signal Tribune that its objective was to get Yamaha Corp. of America to “sway the actions and lobby efforts of Yamaha Motors.”

“They are not just going after Yamaha Marine, or Yamaha Motor Corp. They are going after Yamaha Corp. of America and Yamaha Corp., which is, of course, a music company,” Yamaha communications and government relations manager Martin Peters told Trade Only Today. “We have no shared management with that company.”

When Yamaha learned about the campaign through its dealers that were targeted last summer, Peters and others at the company initiated a meeting with Mighty Earth to discuss changes they had for the act so they could submit them to Rep. Don Young, R-Ala., Peters said.

The group has not provided details, he said.

The Mighty Earth’s posts focus on talking points about overfishing, saying that the Magnuson Stevens Act has been pivotal in rebuilding fish stocks.

“One way that we have been successful in preserving the delicate ecosystems that they sustain is by stopping overfishing in the U.S.,” Mighty Earth states on its website. “Unfortunately, corporations like Yamaha are recklessly spending time and money pushing for policies that would undermine the core principles that keep our fisheries both profitable and sustainable.”

It does not address some of the language in the Modern Fish Act that would require certain species to have more than two years to rebuild, which is the requirement currently in Magnuson Stevens. Fishing advocates say some species take longer to rebound.

“Mighty Earth’s position regarding flexibility on rebuilding timelines defies scientific reality,” Peters said. “Different species of fish reproduce and grow at different rates; rebuilding timeliness under the current MSA can be improved with the application of science, which is what Yamaha proposes.”

The group also ignores some of the advocacy efforts Yamaha has made in the past, Peters said. These include supporting the Save Our Seas Act (a marine plastics removal program), its outboard donations to NOAA fisheries, advocacy against longline vessels in east Florida’s pelagic longline closed area and against large-mesh drift gillnets, and its work on reducing barotrauma on fish that are caught and released (see video).

“Conservation is at the heart of every Yamaha pursuit,” Peters said. “We are the only outboard manufacturer with a published code of ethics by which all Yamaha employees and pro anglers abide. The North American Model of Wildlife Conservation says that our fish and wildlife belong to all Americans and should be managed in such a way that they will be available forever. Yamaha believes in this model. Anything other than pursuit of conservation would not support our industry, our customers or our long-term success.”

Yamaha employees and constituents have a right to voice their opinions on fishing policy, Peters said.

“Mighty Earth is attempting to silence Yamaha and take away our employee’s rights,” he said. “Their efforts are deliberately designed to generate an emotional response from people who have limited knowledge of fisheries policy. Mighty Earth is doing this not only for publicity, but also for the benefit of unidentified funders, likely those organizations that propose privatization of resources that rightfully belong to the public.”

Rep. Austin Scott, R-Ga., wrote an op-ed in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution defending Yamaha's conservation track record.

"Mighty Earth attacks Yamaha and says MSA must be protected as-is because 'the United States benefits from one of the most sustained and profitable fisheries management systems in the world,'" wrote the Congressman.

"Profitable for who? What type of 'environmental steward' advocates for protecting the monopoly the commercial fishing corporations have on a public resource? Surely, an environmentally-focused group must know that miles of longlines with thousands of hooks pillaging our ocean’s spawning areas causes more harm to our nation’s fisheries than anything you can buy at Bass Pro Shop," he said.

"As this debate continues, I hope people will see through the claims of advocacy groups who are working to protect the monopoly of the commercial fishing corporations at the expense of our oceans, local economies, and the American sportsmen," he said.

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