On Friday, October 7, the White House recognized twelve individuals from across the country as “White House Champions of Change for Sustainable Seafood,” including small-boat fisherman Linda Behnken of Sitka, Alaska and Real Good Fish founder Alan Lovewell of Moss Landing, California.
The United States fishing industry is critical to the economic health and well-being of communities across the country, supporting 1.8 million jobs and contributing over $200 billion to the economy in 2014. However, our marine ecosystems are under threat from multiple stressors, including climate change and ocean acidification. The need for innovation in sustainable fisheries has never been greater.
Local leaders serve as the backbone of our communities, working to build resilient coasts and striving to protect at-risk towns whose future depend on the recovery of our fisheries.
Linda and Alan are both members of the Community Fisheries Network, a thirteen-member network convened by Ecotrust and the Island Institute, which connects innovative small-boat commercial fishermen and fishing organizations to find solutions to common problems so that fishing communities — and the ocean resources they depend on — can thrive.
Linda Behnken is Executive Director of the Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association, which represents longline fishermen in securing sustainable access to healthy halibut, sablefish and rockfish stocks. Linda was a commercial fisherman for 34 years and served on the North Pacific Fishery Management Council. During that time, she also served as an industry advisor to the North Pacific Anadromous Fish Commission, the National Academy of Science Individual Fishing Quota Review Panel, and co-chaired the Council’s Essential Fish Habitat committee. Linda participated in the last two re-authorizations of the Magnuson-Stevens Act and was an active advocate for the Sustainable Fisheries Act amendments.
“My children are a part of our family’s business. They get to see what we do, understand the challenges, the fish, the ocean, so there’s a future for them.” —Linda Behnken
Linda is a founding member of the Alaska Sustainable Fisheries Trust, which is a cutting-edge financing tool to help new and young break into Alaska’s fisheries and connect communities with their natural resources.
Linda lives in Sitka and has a 38-foot troller/longliner call F/V Woodstock, pictured above, which she fishes with her husband and two young sons, both of whom have been on the boat since they were five months old.
Alan Lovewell is the CEO and Co-founder of Real Good Fish, a community-supported fishery that connects local fishermen with local consumers with weekly deliveries of high-quality, local, sustainable seafood.
Real Good Fish’s new program, Bay2Tray, brings local seafood to public school children through their school lunch program, and brings local fishermen into their classroom to engage in experience-based learning around ocean health.
Previously, Alan was a Sea Grant Fellow working with NOAA on their ecosystem based management initiative. Having grown up on the water, has devoted himself to serving coastal communities and is passionate about the relationships between business, community and environment, with specific interest in sustainable food systems.