NEW BEDFORD — Former Mayor Scott Lang is taking aim at NOAA fisheries as he organizes a nonprofit to serve as a watchdog and a counterweight to an agency he for years has said has spun out of control.
The organization has no name and Lang isn’t saying who will be part of it. But he said he wants scientists, lawyers, fishermen and other industry players who feel that they’ve been pushed aside as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration does its business.
Dr. Brian Rothschild of the UMass School for Marine Science and Technology, confirmed Tuesday that he is slated to be executive director of the new organization.
“The basic idea is to provide the public with a balanced analysis of fisheries science and policy issues,” Rothschild said. “We’re developing a group that can provide a neutral analysis of claims and counterclaims about fishery management.”
“There’s a lot of chaff out there,” he said. “I think our potential organization can do a lot to help the public, the industry and the Congress to come up with better approaches to fishery management.”
Rothschild said that the organization should be up and running in two to three months.
As mayor, during the litigation over catch shares and sector management, Lang repeatedly called for a complete review of NOAA’s rule-making process.
Earlier this month, as a private individual attorney, he wrote to NOAA general counsel Gene Martin, protesting the possible conflict of interest of Tom Dempsey, policy director of the Cape Cod Commercial Hook Fishermen’s Association, part of the Georges Bank Cod Fixed Gear Sector, and a member of the New England Fishery Management Council.
Council members cannot vote if they have a greater than 10 percent stake in the fishery affected. The sector, wrote Lang, last year held 28 percent of all Georges Bank cod allocations.
Martin, at the June 18 council meeting in Portland, Maine, addressed Lang’s letter and declared, without explanation, that Dempsey was not in conflict of interest.
Dempsey did not return calls seeking comment.
Lang, meanwhile, said he is still waiting for a written response to his letter to Martin.
He said he sees such rulings as part of the decline of the council. In an opinion piece for the Gloucester Daily Times, Lang said “I felt we reached the point where they are incrementally letting (fishermen) slowly starve.
“More and more I realized that the entire system of regulations and the way the council approaches its responsibilities is completely inappropriate,” he said.
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