From the apology letter of Daniel S. Morris Acting Regional Administrator, NOAA Fisheries' Northeast Regional Office.
The longfin squid fishery was closed on July 10 as our catch projections showed that 90% of the Trimester II quota would be caught. We announced the closure on the afternoon of July 6, but two of our primary means for providing the information to industry did not work. I have heard from fishermen that the poor communication caused confusion, inconvenience, and, in some cases, unnecessary expenses. I apologize for the poor communication and am committed to improving.
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?
The scary part of this NOAA screw up is, what could happen to those not complying with the closure.
In the past, the jack booted thugs of the scandalized, but still not held accountable Office of Law Enforcement and their co terrorists Office of General Counsel for Enforcement and Litigation, even though this, ehem, faux pax, have in the past crucified and destroyed fishermen for less. They did , after all have a very expensive habit to support.
An additional IG's report this summer revealed that fines collected into an Asset Forfeiture Fund, close to $100 million over a 41/2 year period through January 2009, were used as if the fund was an uncontrolled debit account. More here.
A real Batman and Robin. They would've enjoyed this opportunity in days gone by.
Its only money, right?
We know these fishermen are loaded, so what the Hells a few thousand in wasted fuel, wasted ice, forget about wasted time, it's not an hourly paid occupation, so wasted time means nothing to these guys! Right.
What it does mean is the owners and the crews are on the hook to pay for the wasted fuel and ice out of the NEXT trip. If they catch anything!
The apology letter continues.
Typically, when we have time-sensitive news to announce, we place paper copies of the permit holder letter in the mail, air messages over National Weather Service Radio and Coast Guard Broadcast, and email constituents who have opted to receive emails from us at nero.noaa.gov. We do not typically send VMS messages for longfin squid closures because VMS is not required for longfin squid permit holders.
These notification methods are obviously not foolproof, and our communication leading up to the July 10 closure have prompted us to troubleshoot and rethink how we pass time-sensitive information to the fleet. We seek your help. We will investigate the costs and utility of using VMS to notify vessels of longfin squid closures.
We'd also like to hear any ideas you may have for improving our fleet notifications about other time-sensitive actions. Contact the Sustainable Fisheries Division at 978-281-9315 if you have suggestions.
Daniel S. Morris
Acting Regional Administrator
Ironically, the squid fleet must notify NMFS, through a website, anytime boats are planning on taking a squid trip at least three days in advance or face fines. Schumer, Gillibrand, and Bishop pointed out that since these fleets are required to notify NMFS electronically, the agency could have easily notified those crews that reported they were out to sea for a haul.
July 12- 2012 -- The following was released by the offices of United States Senators Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand and Congressman Tim Bishop: http://www.savingseafood.org/washington/new-york-lawmakers-blast-noaa-for-sudden-squid-fishery-closure-that-unnecessarily-cost-fishermen-thousands-of-do-2.html