DEC 09, 2018 12:13 PM PST

Fishermen unite to sue big oil

Almost a month has gone by since fishermen in California and Oregon filed suit against big oil in California's Superior Court, demanding compensation for damages done to the fishing industry. The lawsuit is colloquially being called the crabbers’ suit because many of the members making up the plaintiff, The Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations, rely on crabbing for their livelihoods.

The federation is suing the fossil fuel industry, including major companies like Chevron, ExxonMobil, BP, and Shell Oil, under the claim that it has known about the dangers of fossil fuels and climate change for decades but has deliberately hidden information from the public as well as spread misinformation campaigns.

"Instead of working to reduce the use and combustion of fossil fuel products ... and ease the transition to a lower carbon economy, Defendants concealed the dangers, sought to undermine public support for greenhouse gas regulation, and engaged in massive campaigns to promote the ever-increasing use of their products at ever greater volumes," the crab fishermen's lawsuit states. Such actions have in turn drastically increased ocean temperatures, thus affecting fisheries.

Small-scale fisheries have been particularly impacted because of higher concentrations of domoic acid in the ocean, a neurotoxin produced by blooms of toxic algae whose growth is triggered by heatwaves in water temperature. Domoic acid can make Dungeness crab, the West Coast’s prime crab species, as well as other shellfish unsafe to eat. Due to domoic acid outbreaks in recent years, the fisheries industry has suffered from shortened crabbing seasons, resulting in substantial economic losses.

Dungeness crabs are a lucrative industry on the West Coast. Photo: CDFW News - WordPress.com

NPR reports that “Noah Oppenheim, the executive director of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations, says the 2015-2016 crab fishing closure resulted in direct financial losses that caused some boats in the fleet of about 1,000 to leave the fishery. Subsequent closures, also caused by domoic acid concerns, have further strained the industry, which in California and Oregon is worth about $445 million, according to Oppenheim.”

The crabbers’ lawsuit seems to be the first time food producers have joined together to file suit against the fossil fuel industry. There is hope that this move will encourage other industries to also take action to hold big oil and gas accountable.

Sources: NPR, LA Times

About the Author
BA Environmental Studies
Kathryn is a curious world-traveller interested in the intersection between nature, culture, history, and people. She has worked for environmental education non-profits and is a Spanish/English interpreter.
You May Also Like
AUG 04, 2022
Technology
The greatest semiconductor of all time?
AUG 04, 2022
The greatest semiconductor of all time?
In a recent study published in Science, a team of researchers claim that cubic boron arsenide is the greatest semiconduc ...
AUG 12, 2022
Earth & The Environment
Humans, not climate, contributed to mammal community similarities 10,000+ years ago
AUG 12, 2022
Humans, not climate, contributed to mammal community similarities 10,000+ years ago
In a recent study published in Nature Communications, an international team of researchers discuss how the increasing ho ...
AUG 22, 2022
Earth & The Environment
Modern Heat Waves Feel Worse Than Heat Index Suggests
AUG 22, 2022
Modern Heat Waves Feel Worse Than Heat Index Suggests
In a recent study published in Environmental Research Letters, a pair of researchers at the University of California at ...
SEP 15, 2022
Plants & Animals
Higher CO2 Levels in the Atmosphere Lead to Bigger, Less Nutritious Plants
SEP 15, 2022
Higher CO2 Levels in the Atmosphere Lead to Bigger, Less Nutritious Plants
Rising CO2 levels continue to raise alarm around the world, highlighting the dangerous ways climate change is impacting ...
SEP 24, 2022
Technology
Engineers Use Nanophotonic Materials to Improve VR and 3D Displays
SEP 24, 2022
Engineers Use Nanophotonic Materials to Improve VR and 3D Displays
In a recent study published in Advanced Optical Materials, a team of researchers led by Rice University discovered a met ...
SEP 25, 2022
Space & Astronomy
Researchers Verify New Building Block for Life on Enceladus
SEP 25, 2022
Researchers Verify New Building Block for Life on Enceladus
In a recent study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, an international team of researchers ...
Loading Comments...