A friend sent me an email describing the latest slight of hand trick of mismanagement by the regulators that oversee the harvesting of our fishery resource.
I will include it in it's entirety as I cannot state the obvious any better.
In recent weeks the agency has been in the spotlight because of the continuing foolishness the agency has been known for by those that are subjected to the rules and regulations, which for some reason seem to magicaly, change, or are enforced without any reasonable standards.
Just last week, there were numerous reports that NOAA had the need to debunk a cable tv shows notion that mermaids were really real!
Lubchenco’s NOAA declares mermaids don’t exist
Posted by danbacher on @ 9:43 am Article printed from speakeasy: http://blogs.alternet.org/danbacher URL to article: http://blogs.alternet.org/danbacher/2012/07/05/lubchencos-noaa-reveals-mermaids-dont-exist/
by Dan Bacher
NOAA, the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, has revealed the startling truth: mermaids aren’t real.
“No evidence of aquatic humanoids has ever been found,” according to a statement from NOAA (http://oceanservice.noaa.gov/facts/mermaids.html). “Why, then, do they occupy the collective unconscious of nearly all seafaring peoples? That’s a question best left to historians, philosophers, and anthropologists.”
The NOAA statement unveiling the shocking news apparently came after the airing of a recent Animal Planet TV show “Mermaids: The Body Found.”
NOAA traced the history of the mermaid legends in its statement.
This is also the same agency that, under the leadership of NOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenco, has pushed the controversial “catch shares” program to privatize the oceans. A catch share, also known as an individual fishing quota, is a transferable voucher that gives individuals or businesses the ability to access a fixed percentage of the total authorized catch of a particular species.
“Fishery management systems based on catch shares turn a public resource into private property and have lead to many socioeconomic and environmental problems,” according to Food and Water Watch. (http://www.foodandwaterwatch.org/fish/fair-fish/catch-shares/)
Again, while mermaids may be a myth, the destruction caused to public trust resources, the environment and fishing communities by Lubchenco’s “catch shares” program is not.
I guess they really had the need to divert attention away from the other issues that have the agency in the cross hairs of Congress and the US Commerce IG, who is conducting an investigation into the "rule making" process.
There was also the advertisement for the services of a magician for one of the seminars similar to the GSA scandal.
After all, ousted NOAA law enforcement chief Dale Jones, kicked sideways two years ago and now serving as a fisheries analyst while still raking in more than $150,000 from U.S. taxpayers, showed he was pretty adept at making documents disappear through a masterful shredding operation with an Inspector General's investigation in the works.
Then there's NOAA counsel Deirdre Casey, who's still with the agency but has been transferred out of Gloucester. She showed a pretty deft hand at conjuring up "evidence," putting through a bogus affidavit for a search of the former Gloucester Seafood Display Auction despite having prior knowledge of a "discrepancy" in the document she still pressed forward.
Heck, when you think about it, they and their colleagues — right up to NOAA administrator Jane Lubchenco — have all done a pretty fair job in their efforts to try to make an entire class of American worker, the small-boat, independent fishermen, disappear from the seas, much the way independent family farmers were driven from America's agricultural landscape more than two decades ago.
There is, of course, nothing funny about any of that.
Indeed, NOAA's ad — posted a week ago today, then taken down less than 48 hours later, before Lubchenco's dysfunctional agency became more of a federal laughingstock than it is already — shows just how hopelessly out of touch this bunch has become
Hopelessly out of touch?? This may give you an idea just how out of touch they are.
As Nils Stolpe pointed out in a recent piece, it appears that fisheries regulators don’t seem to understand that fishermen are in business. This weekend’s Squid closure is a fine example of that suspicion.
Trimester 2 of the Squid Fishery closed midnight on Monday July 9. The closure was not completely unexpected, catches had been good, and like last year the spring spawn run of Loligo Squid had been successful both for the fishermen and apparently for the Squid (the bottom was covered with eggs). Groundfishing has been devastated due to cock-eyed allocations of quota in the catch share management scheme, and closures in the Gulf of Maine fishery; consequently there were more boats in the Squid fishery this year from ports that normally focused on groundfish during this time, so more boats and larger landings.
There was good, fairly consistent, fishing through the spring and into July. Most boats were finally making some money after a relatively austere winter, and many fishermen with their understandable and justifiable cynicism were saying, “...this won’t last, I’m actually paying some bills and making a few bucks, they’ll likely shut us down soon.”
The shock was not that the Squid Fishery was being shut down; the shock was the level of disregard and disrespect for the fishermen in the way this fishery was shut down.
A letter was issued on Friday July 6th and mailed (regular mail) the same day sometime on July 6th from NOAA/NMFS’s Gloucester office announcing a Squid fishery closure on Monday midnight July 9th (all boats landing Squid were to be at the dock by midnight). This was the only vehicle used to announce the closure. There was no announcement from NMFS through the Weather or VHF or SSB radio, the VMS email, or the home email for that matter. NMFS definitely has access to the weather radio, Ch 16 VHF, USCG SSB, fishermen’s Boatracs VMS and home email addresses, they’re constantly telling fishermen when and at what time to the second that they cross the demarcation line or when there’s a whale in the vicinity. They’ve announced closures to boats at sea through the radio and VMS email before---but not this time. The first word of the closure to the Point Judith boats came from the fish buyers/processors in PT. Judith through a (non-official) VMS email at 9am on Monday morning; this “unofficial” message created a great deal of confusion and consternation. Only after Satellite phone contact was made with the NMFS Office of Law Enforcement was it ascertained that this was an official closure. The defining answer from OLE was received at sea through VMS email at 10:30am. Some vessels from the Point Judith, RI fleet were 120nm away at this time and had no chance of landing before midnight, so OLE gave permission to land and pack out after midnight.
Here’s the problem, no email or radio announcements were sent on Friday when the closure was apparently decided, no warning, no advance notice. Boats that left port on Friday or Saturday, after taking $5,000 worth of fuel and $1400 worth of ice, barely made it to the grounds, found the fish (if they were lucky) and had begun fishing, when they were “unofficially” told to stop fishing and return to port. There are probably some boats that were not on the fish buyers’ email lists that are still out there fishing as of Wed. July 11th without a clue that they are in violation of a closure (regular mail is not delivered at sea these days). What will happen to them? Confiscate their catch? Or if they are permitted to land their catch after 5 days (the typical maximum Squid trip for a boat that doesn’t freeze on board) what about the boats that cut short their trip after one day of fishing ---because they were “lucky enough” to get word---and so went in the hole for the ice and fuel bill?
Squid is a staple for the boats in Southern New England, especially since most have lost half their income in the groundfish catch share debacle. The Squid involved in this closure have spawned and most are headed back offshore to spend their final days. Squid live for little more than a year, so to shut down harvesting these fish at this time is idiotic to begin with since there’s no “overfishing limit” on this species that’s difficult if not impossible to survey accurately; but to do it in a way that disrespects, in fact, completely ignores the people that are taking the risks and have the most at stake in a healthy fishery is completely unacceptable behavior on NOAA’s part.
This situation needs to be investigated and the responsible parties need to be held responsible for their ignorance, arrogance, incompetence and/or perhaps agenda-driven hostility toward the fishing industry.
This type of regulatory bungling might not be as haphazard as first it appears, for it sure does help set up the worn out punch line of the pro-catch share hacks who are itching to get Squid, Scup, Fluke, and Whiting into their gooey scheme: “...well, if you don’t want derby-style fishing...then the alternative is Catch Shares where everyone can fish happily, safely, and profitably, wherever and whenever they want; fish forever and ever, when the weather is sunny and calm and the prices are sky-high [like the people who think up this bunkum].”
In response to NOAA’s request for Comments:
“NOAA Seeks Comments on Proposed Measures Included in Framework Adjustment 6 to the Squid, Mackerel and Butterfish Fishery Management Plan
June 27, 2012 - At the request of the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council, NOAA Fisheries is proposing a change in the Council’s risk policy regarding stocks without an overfishing limit. The current risk policy does not allow increases of the acceptable biological catch for stocks that do not have an overfishing limit derived from the stock assessment.
The modification will allow increases of the acceptable biological catch for stocks that have stable or increasing trends in abundance, and for which there is robust scientific information to suggest that an increased acceptable biological catch will not lead to overfishing.”
Yes, it would be brilliant to change the “risk policy” to allow increases in the acceptable biological catch for stocks that the Council knows nothing about (no less exactly how many fish of any given species should be swimming in the ocean in any given eon). In fact, a policy that necessitates a formal framework modification in order to inject a bit of common sense might suggest reassessing and perhaps discarding the entire policy---that however, might be too risky. NOAA and the Council might also consider in that reassessment process, the level of the intelligence involved in embracing the concept of “overfishing”, or managing to some scientific fantasy of ideal stock population numbers, especially when the population numbers are seen as a direct function of a handful of fishing boats dragging a 90ft x 10ft. net around the vast (and yes, dear scientists) still quite mysterious ocean.
End of email.
After 35 years of NOAA/NMFS fisheries management, how are they doing? How are we doing because of their efforts?
FishNet USA/June 25, 2012
Nils E. StolpeFishNet USA/June 25, 2012 > http://www.fishnet-usa.com/After%2035%20years%20of%20NOAA.pdf