Peter Shelley: Call to oust chief of NOAA is bad for a fishing industry in flux


Senator Scott Brown (Photo credit: Bibliographical Directory of the U.S. Congress)

In late October, Senator Scott Brown called for the resignation of NOAA administrator Jane Lubchenco. CLF’s Peter Shelley wrote the following Letter to the Editor of the Boston Globe in response to Senator Brown’s statement:

Call to oust chief of NOAA is bad for a fishing industry in flux

SENATOR SCOTT Brown’s call for the resignation of the administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is misdirected and destructive to a changing fishing industry that needs predictability, not political theater (‘‘Citing ‘indifference,’ Brown says NOAA chief should be fired,’’ Metro, Oct. 23).

Brown seems to think that the catch-share program was forced on Massachusetts fishermen by NOAA and Jane Lubchenco. In fact, the approach of having sectors of boat owners manage their fish quotas was developed and approved by the New England Fishery Management Council with unanimous support from the council’s Massachusetts fishing industry members and Governor Patrick’s representative. NOAA adopted the council’s plan without change. Eighteen months in, with some promising results and no quantitative evidence of an economic emergency, the council continues to support the catch-share program.

Brown’s call for Lubchenco’s head may curry favor with some frustrated Massachusetts groundfishermen, but it won’t solve their problems. What they do need is economic stability and confidence that their concerns will be addressed in full by the New England council. Its efforts to build on the program’s successes and mitigate its negative impacts are already underway with the full support of NOAA and Lubchenco.

If Brown is really concerned about the fate of Massachusetts’ fishing industry, he’d be better off seeking to end the congressional stalemate that is prolonging the national economic crisis than creating a bogus enemy in Lubchenco.

Peter Shelley

Senior counsel Conservation Law Foundation Boston

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