Written by Adrianne Madden
Friday, 09 July 2010
Congressmen Barney Frank (D-Mass.) and John Tierney (D-Mass.) are stepping up their battle with NOAA chief Jane Lubchenco by calling for her to step down, citing what Frank calls her "hostility" towards the fishing industry.
Frank and Tierney say fishermen are being treated unfairly by NOAA/NMFS on a couple of fronts. For one, the protests of Northeast groundfishermen and state and federal politicians that catch share management is unnecessarily devastating their industry have failed to sway Lubchenco.
"For too long our local fishing community has dealt with unfair regulations, treatment, and practices from officials at NOAA," Tierney said in a press statement he and Frank issued Friday, July 9. "As issues continue to arise, we question whether Dr. Lubchenco and NOAA leadership have done enough to increase responsiveness to the public and Congress, hold agency representatives accountable, and take a critical look at unfair catch share regulations."
Then there's the report by the Department of Commerce's Inspector General that questioned NOAA fisheries enforcement practices. A subsequent forensic audit conducted by the accounting firm KPMG revealed abuses of the $96 million Asset Forfeiture Fund, an account built from fishing fines.
Frank's frustration in trying to work with Lubchenco has reached a boiling point, culminating in the call for her resignation.
"I have for sometime been disappointed in Dr. Lubchenco's stance towards the fisherman, which seems to approach hostility," Frank said in the press statement. "This latest report confirms that the agency has been badly run without clear initiatives from her to correct the egregious problems at NOAA, and that is why I have called for her removal."
It will be interesting to see how this plays out. Frank and other state and federal politicians have been commendable in their efforts to support the fishing industry. The question is how will Lubchenco respond?
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