One the one hand, we have the fishing industry. NOAA chief Jane Lubchenco is driving the push towards catch share management, and appears determined to implement the sector management system regardless of the economic toll it will take on the region’s fishermen and their communities.
Industry advocates and legislators fear that the catch share management program will devastate the Northeast groundfish fishery and coastal communities unless alterations are made. Yet entreaties to Lubchenco and Commerce Secretary Gary Locke to raise catch limits enough to let fishermen survive until annual quotas can be more accurately set in future years are falling on deaf ears.
On the other hand we have the oil industry. The federal Minerals Management Service didn’t require British Petroleum to have a $500,000 acoustic backup device for the Deepwater Horizon oil rig; it deemed the device too expensive. That probably looks like chump change to BP now.
On Friday, President Obama lit into the agency, “For too long, for a decade or more, there’s been a cozy relationship between the oil companies and the federal agency [MMS] that permits them to drill,” Obama said during a White House press conference in the Rose Garden. “It seems as if permits were too often issued based on little more than assurances of safety from the oil companies.”
Thus we have two industries, both extracting natural resources that are treated very differently by the agencies that manage them. Alaska’s Prince William Sound and now the Gulf of Mexico will likely never be the same following oil spills. So tell me again which industry is the better steward of our nation’s ocean resources?