TRANSCRIPT - Leon Panetta
Panetta is the Director of the Panetta Institute as well as
former Chief of Staff to President Clinton
Can you talk a little bit about the state of marine fisheries in
There's no question
that we take our oceans for granted. The commission basically determined
as a result of that that our oceans are in crisis. That we're seeing
a depletion of our wildlife, our ocean wildlife, with reports that
ninety percent of the big fish are gone. We're seeing that happen
Combine that with pollution problems that are really impacting,
creating dead zones. Combined with the growth that is happening
along our coastline, the development that's taking place along the
coastline. Combine that with the way we currently manage our fisheries,
and the governance chaos really that exists. It all spells "real
crisis" for America's oceans. And in turn, creates a real responsibility
of stewardship, if we're going to ever fix it.
What's the importance of the role of aquaculture in terms of the
starting to alleviate over-fishing problems, take pressure off marine
is an industry that is going to continue to grow and expand. Why?
We depend on our fisheries. We depend on it for our nutrition, we
depend on it for our health, and we depend on it for our very livelihood.
So when the wild fisheries are in trouble, we go to farming fish.
That's what aquaculture is all about. So for all the concerns that
many have with regards to this growing new industry, the reality
is that it's going to continue to expand because the demand is there.
As long as the demand is there, you will see aquaculture expand.
As I'm sure you're aware, some of the critics of different sectors
within the aquaculture industry, are concerned that some of the
same mindset that's contributed with regard to fisheries management,
to the decline of ocean fish population- they're concern is maybe
that same mindset is at the steering wheel with the regulation,
or at least with the industry and possibly the regulation of marine
aquaculture. I think they're talking about proceeding without necessary
an industry that is expanding rapidly. The problem right now is
that, you have 50 different states that have 50 different standards
that are applied to aquaculture. And the problem is that as long
as you have these very different approaches to aquaculture, there's
going to be a real haphazard approach here. Some states will do
a good job regulating, some will not, and overall, I think we really
do have a responsibility at the federal level. We are talking after
all about interstate commerce here. What's raised in these fisheries
travels through interstate commerce. As a result it seems to me
there's a legitimate issue about whether or not national standards
ought to be set for how these aquaculture forums operate. That's
not to say there aren't people who are responsible and trying to
do the right kind of job, I think there are. But I also think in
fairness to them, everybody's got to play by the same rules, and
right now, we've got 50 different sets of rules.
Given that the seafood market is a global market and a lot of the
farm-raised seafood available now is being produced in other countries
that have very different regulatory regimes, what do you think of
the importance of a certification scheme? That is, the labeling
of certain types of farm-raised seafood as sustainable.
become a lot more sensitive. Certainly they've become more sensitive
about what's happening in the wild fisheries, and which ones they
should or should not buy in the market. I think the same thing is
true for farmed fishing. These concerns have been recognized and
developed about how these aquaculture operations vary and they do.
If you look at what's going on in Southeast Asia, if you look at
what's going on in China, if you look at, at the different operations
throughout the world, there are a lot of concerns about just exactly
what's happening. It only makes sense to give consumers that information.
It doesn't mean some won't buy it, that's fine. I think giving consumers
the right information about where these farmed fish were raised,
and whether or not they were raised in accordance with the kind
of standards that hopefully the United States does, consumers need
to know that and then buy accordingly.
of helping to promote sustainable aquaculture and fisheries from
a policy point of view, do you have any thoughts on how average
citizens can be involved in that or whether they ought to be?
have to care because there's an interrelationship here, it's not
like, you're suddenly removing this and it's not having an impact.
As we know, these aquaculture farms can in fact have an impact on
the wild fisheries. They can have an impact in terms of our coastal
development. They can have an impact in terms of the waters that
are along our coast and therefore affect the habitats that impact
on other fisheries and that impact on the quality of waters that
we have along our coastline. So there's an interrelationship here.
It's not as if uh, they're isolated from the rest of nature. And
because of that, citizens need to care about how these operate,
how they're approved, whether they're operating by certain standards.
Again, it's not to say that these businesses shouldn't have a right
to exist. They will and they should. But it is in the interest of
every citizen to make sure that these farms operate by standards
that ensure not only that they're producing the right kind of product
themselves, but also that they aren't impacting on the wild fisheries.
What is the importance, in your opinion, of environmental sustainability
considerations with regard to international trade policy?
is what it's all about. One of the things we found at the Pew commission
is that if you're really going to protect our fisheries, you've
got to develop a policy of sustainability. Which basically means
that you're going to develop a resource that is there and it's protected
and it's not only there for the present, but it's there for the
future. We've seen examples of sustainable fisheries that we think
are models for how we ought to be able to manage our fisheries.
What they do is they implement standards, they implement requirements,
and they set certain limits. As a result of that, that resource
has not only expanded, it is a resource that has assured that it's
always going to be with us.
Well, I think
the same thing needs to be applied when it comes to our fish farms.
They have to develop those farms in a way that ensures sustainability
for the future. And not just come in on a very hit and miss basis,
kind of a boom-bust basis: go in, develop the fisheries, no matter
what happens, sell them as quickly as you can, make a lot of money
and move on. That is going to damage not only their industry, but
it's going to damage as I said, the whole reputation of the aquaculture
What are your thoughts on the National Marine Fishery study about
giving leases on the continental shelf offshore waters?
If we're talking
about a national resource, one of the things that the Commission
has tried to stress with this country is we've got to treat our
ocean waters as a national trust. A hundred years ago Teddy Roosevelt
made us aware of the fact that we had to treat our land and the
beauty of our land as a national trust. Well, what we're trying
to do a hundred years later is make people recognize that we have
the same responsibility of stewardship to our oceans. Now if you're
going to start leasing areas offshore for the use of fish farms,
for the cages to raise certain fish. Then I think you've got to
be assured that it is being done in a way that meets our required
standards. Because don't forget, anything you put out there in the
ocean, whether it's an oil rig or anything else- it's going to impact
It's going to
impact on habitat. And for that reason, I think we just need to
be doubly careful when that happens it's done by standards that
ensure that there will not be damage to the wildlife. There should
not be damage to the habitat, and sufficient protection will be
taken by whoever operates out there to make sure that whatever happens
in those cages doesn't impact on the wildlife around them. Because
if it does, then all we're doing is essentially planting the seeds
for double trouble in the future. We were concerned in the Pew Commission,
that what we saw was that we were taking our oceans for granted.
The oceans are a huge resource out there, probably the largest resource
that we have any kind of jurisdiction over. By taking it for granted,
we're doing serious damage to it. We thought that there was a crisis
out there. What our report confirms is that indeed our oceans are
in crisis. Crisis in terms of our fisheries because we are seeing
our fisheries damaged by a lot of factors: in part over-fishing,
in part pollution, in part just the impact of weather systems, etcetera,
are really affecting our fisheries.
seeing increased pollution along our coastline, creating dead zones
the size of Massachusetts, in which there is no sea life because
of pollution coming off the land. We're seeing coastal development
- over fifty percent of our population lives along the coast. And
that's going to expand. As it does it will impact on our habitats
and our fisheries and our wetlands. We're losing almost twenty thousand
acres of wetlands each year. All of this is combined with, very
frankly, chaotic governance at the federal level, at the state level
and the local level. In which competing and conflicting guidelines
create chaos in terms of management. Put all those factors together
and it spells real crisis for our oceans. And it means that we have
a responsibility of stewardship to really ensure that we do a much
better job of protecting that glorious resource that's out there
that we depend on.