White House Press Release, Oct. 5, 2016 

Fisherman Linda Behnken of Sitka baits up for 'but.  Credit: noaa.gov

Fisherman Linda Behnken of Sitka baits up for ‘but.
Credit: noaa.gov

The White House will recognize a dozen individuals from around the country as “White House Champions of Change for Sustainable Seafood” on Friday.

The fishing industry is critical to the economic health and well-being of communities across the country, supporting 1.8 million jobs and contributing more than $200 billion to the economy in 2014, according to a White House press release. However, marine ecosystems are under threat from multiple stressors, including climate change and ocean acidification and the need for innovation in sustainable fisheries has never been greater,, according to the press release.

Local leaders serve as the backbone of communities, working to build resilient coasts and striving to protect the at-risk towns whose futures depend on the recovery of fisheries.

Linda Behnken, Sitka, Alaska: 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. Linda participated in the last two re-authorizations of the Magnuson-Stevens Act and was an active advocate for the Sustainable Fisheries Act amendments. She also is a founding member of the Alaska Sustainable Fisheries Trust,  a cutting-edge financing tool to help new and young fishermen break into Alaska’s fisheries and connect communities with their natural resources.

“The administration applauds the hard work, collaboration and sacrifice by many across the country to become responsible stewards and safeguard our seafood security,” according to the press release.

The Champions of Change schedule includes a Thursday evening Washington, D.C., reception to highlight great seafood and the work of the honorees; a Friday morning sustainability roundtable with senior advisers at the White House; a meeting with Commerce Secretary Pritzker and CEQ director Goldfuss; then remarks from the honorees and a moderated panel.

The Champions of Change program was created as an opportunity for the White House to feature individuals doing extraordinary things to empower and inspire members of their communities. The event will be live streamed on the White House website atwww.whitehouse.gov/live at 1 p.m ET on Friday, Oct. 7. Follow the conversation at #WHChamps.