National Fisherman

Mixed Catch 

jerryJerry Fraser is NF's publisher and former editor.



Is LeBron James advising NOAA on its public relations strategies these days?

A basketball superstar, James set his public image ablaze last year when he chose to announce on national television his decision to leave the Cleveland Cavaliers and "take his talents to South Beach." Nothing King James has done or said since joining the Miami Heat has wiped the bad taste out of basketball fans' mouths.

NOAA's public relations nightmare has been the fisheries enforcement scandal in the Northeast. The resulting uproar over overzealous and arrogant enforcement actions led to a Commerce Department Inspector General's office probe of enforcement practices in the region, followed by a review of specific cases and now Senate hearings examining NOAA practices.

The findings of Special Master Charles B. Swartwood III prompted the Commerce Department and NOAA to implement steps designed to prevent such abuses from re-occurring. It also led them to issue formal apologies for enforcement actions, and in some cases compensate fishermen for those abuses.

So you're NOAA chief Jane Lubchenco and you've promised to work hard to repair your agency's dysfunctional relationship with Northeast fishermen. What would your next step towards that goal be?

Would you email the attorney for Larry Ciulla of the Gloucester, Mass., Seafood Display Auction — one of the victims most unfairly targeted by enforcement personnel — that your agency is enforcing Commerce Secretary Gary Locke's decision to reinstate a 15-day closure of the auction as negotiated in a 2010 settlement of three interlocking cases against it?

Locke's decision is based on the Special Master's report and recommendations. Swartwood had written that he didn't have authority to revisit the penalty and have it erased.

And if you were going to notify Ciulla of your decision, would you do so just as he's waiting to testify at a Senate subcommittee hearing on how your agency is managing funds to protect the domestic fishing industry?

No, you probably wouldn't. But LeBron would. And NOAA did.

Inside the Industry

The anti-mining group Salmon Beyond Borders expressed disappointment and dismay last week at Alaska Governor Bill Walker’s announcement that he has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with B.C. Premier Christy Clark.

This came just days after his administration asked members of his newly-formed Transboundary Rivers Citizens Advisory Work Group to provide comment on a Draft Statement of Cooperation associated with Transboundary mining.


NMFS recently released a draft action plan for fish discard and release mortality science, creating a list of actions that they hope can better inform fisheries.

We know that fishermen have to deal with bycatch by discarding or releasing unwanted catch overboard, but there is a data gap regarding how those fish survive.

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