Jes Hathaway is the editor in chief of National Fisherman magazine and NationalFisherman.com.
Monday, 19 July 2010
I have to wonder that if Jane Lubchenco had known how catastrophic this year in fisheries management would be, would she have taken the job?
She got off to a widely publicized start by rushing to the coast of Massachusetts to talk to fishermen there about what was not working in their industry. Their answer: A lot.
Her shine started to dull pretty quickly when it became apparent she was in her leadership role not so much to lead but to tow the administration's line toward catch shares.
Despite complaints of a total lack of readiness to implement this system for the Northeast groundfishery, NOAA pushed it through by the deadline of May 1.
Since then, all hell has broken loose.
Not only has the catch share system been a pretty miserable failure in terms of management, but fishermen joined forces to protest poor management practices in a huge D.C. protest back in March.
Next came the Deepwater Horizon spill in the gulf — a nightmare for thousands of fishermen today and who knows how many more to come.
Then the Northeast fishermen started really pushing for some answers as to their heavy fines. Lo and behold, they were right.
No more brushing off fishermen's conspiracy theories about draconian management tactics and fines. So far the evidence shows Northeast fishermen were being fined considerably more than fishermen from other regions, and the money has allegedly been misused as a slush fund for whatever managers fancied — cars, trips, a luxury yacht. All this while fishermen tried to keep their heads above water.
So what does Jane Lubchenco have to say about all of this?
I'm not sure. She hasn't spoken much publicly since the oil spill began, NOAA's slush fund of penalties was exposed or catch shares essentially imploded. But she is holding a summit on Aug. 3 in Washington — at which her constituents will apparently be at least severely underrepresented.
Is it any wonder members of Congress are calling for her ouster?
We've had one worthy shakeup at NOAA this year, when enforcement chief Dale Jones was tossed for allegedly shredding documents ahead of an investigation. It may be time for another.
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