Crab Fishers Sue Fossil Fuel Industry Over Climate Change Damage


The lawsuit by the largest West Coast commercial fishing association seeks to hold 30 companies accountable for harming shellfish and livelihoods as the ocean warms.

Crab fishing on the West Coast has become so threatened by warming oceans that a coalition of commercial fishers has now joined the climate litigation fray with a lawsuit filed Wednesday to hold 30 fossil fuel companies accountable for losses caused by climate change.

The lawsuit, filed in San Francisco County Superior Court by the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations, seeks damages on behalf of crab fishers, their businesses and families, and local communities in California and Oregon.

It describes losses caused by the closing of crab fishing waters over the past four years because of algae blooms in the warming Pacific waters, and warns that these closures will keep happening as warming continues.

“These changes threaten both the productivity of commercial fisheries and safety of commercially harvested seafood products,” the lawsuit says. “In so doing, they also threaten those that rely on ocean fisheries and ecosystems for their livelihoods, by rendering it at times impossible to ply their trade.”

At the heart of the 91-page lawsuit are claims similar to those being used by several California cities that are suing the fossil fuel industry over sea level rise. It accuses some of the world’s largest oil and gas producers, including ExxonMobil, Chevron, Shell and BP, of negligence, defective-product liability, creating a nuisance, and failing to warn about the dangers of fossil fuel products that the companies knew would result in warming of the oceans and atmosphere.

But this case is unusual in pitting one industry against another.

Learn more here.