Written by Linc Bedrosian
Thursday, 28 February 2013
As NOAA chief Jane Lubchenco sails off into the proverbial sunset today, a question usually reserved for presidential candidates comes to mind. Are fishermen better off today than they were four years ago? Northeast groundfishermen would say, "No."
A 2009 Gloucester Times article reported on the U.S. Senate confirmation hearings for Lubchenco, an environmental scientist and marine ecologist who was a Pew Fellow and former Environmental Defense trustee. Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), who described NMFS' relationship with New England fishermen as haughty, dismissive and isolated, asked Lubchenco how she planned to repair the relationship.
Agreeing that it was a "seriously dysfunctional relationship," Lubchenco vowed to "create a new climate of trust."
The Senate subsequently confirmed Lubchenco. However, her zeal for catch share management, a NOAA law enforcement scandal that revealed overzealous targeting of the region's fishermen and an astonishingly dire 2011 cod stock assessment that contradicted the more upbeat previous survey did little to improve that relationship.
Equally troubling was her reluctance to respond to letters and requests of state and federal politicians for information and action, and the agency's penchant for touting catch shares as a success in New England while omitting the negative effect they were having upon groundfish harvesters.
They're saddled with a catch share management system they never wanted. The Commerce Department issued a disaster declaration for the fishery in 2012. Now, facing cod harvest cuts of 77 percent in the Gulf of Maine and 61 percent on Georges Bank that begin this year, they seek a way forward.
"We know there's no disaster assistance that's coming anytime soon, the agency had to announce that because of their budget that 50 percent of [at sea] monitoring is going to be laid upon the industry, and the quota is all being taken off the table," Vito Giacalone of the Northeast Seafood Coalition told the New England Fishery Management Council at its Jan. 30 meeting.
New England groundfish harvesters may not be better off today than they were four years ago, but you can forgive them if they believe they're better off without Lubchenco managing NOAA.
The following was released by the Maine Department of Marine Resources on Jan. 22:
The Maine Department of Marine Resources announced an emergency regulation that will support the continued rebuilding effort in Maine’s scallop fishery. The rule, effective January 23, 2016, will close the Muscle Ridge Area near South Thomaston and the Western Penobscot Bay Area.Read more...
Louisiana’s Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, which governs commercial and recreational fishing in the state, got a new boss in January. Charlie Melancon, a former member of the U.S. House of Representatives and state legislator, was appointed to the job by the state’s new governor, John Bel Edwards.
Although much of his non-political work in the past has centered on the state’s sugar cane industry, Melancon said he is confident that other experience, including working closely with fishermen when in Congress, has prepared him well for this new challenge.Read more...