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.