Written by Adrianne Madden
November 12, 2008
Fishermen are being tarred with the same brush being used to blast the Bush administration regarding last-minute regulations that critics say aim to end environmental protections and erode our civil liberties.
Stories are starting to crop up in the press concerning what critics say is the lame-duck administration's 11th hour efforts to weaken the Endangered Species Act and expand the FBI's power to spy on ordinary Americans; they're among what a Baltimore Sun editorial calls "dozens of other controversial new interpretations of federal law that are being rushed through required administrative reviews with extraordinary haste."
The problem, the Sun and others say, is these new last-minute rules will bypass Congress and ignore the will of the people. Moreover, the media say, they will tie the hands of President-elect Barrack Obama and prove very difficult to undo.
That may well be the case regarding many of the new rules. And one always raises an eyebrow when presidents — be they Republicans or Democrats — ram through rules at the end of their term in office.
However, the media is unfairly raising eyebrows at two commercial fishing-related measures. For example, the Sun editorial states, commercial fishermen would be given a larger role in managing the nation's fisheries, "a prospective change that has drawn protests from members of Congress as well as 160 conservation groups."
Gasp! To think that fishermen actually want to participate in the fisheries management system! The horror, the horror...
There's similar clucking about easing scallop catch restrictions. Mercy! Never mind that the scallop fishery is the poster child for rebuilding stocks — and that scallopers have played a huge role in spurring that recovery.
I'm puzzled by the mainstream media assuming that if environmental groups are against something, well then it automatically must be bad. If the media is so willing to assume that commercial fishermen have an agenda to push, why doesn't it likewise assume the same of environmentalists? Instead, it simply trots out tired bromides about foxes guarding henhouses.
There's nothing wrong with media outlets taking editorial stances, even if they're positions you don't agree with. But you do want them to explore both sides of the equation before formulating their stance.
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