NEW BEDFORD — With success nowhere near guaranteed, but with a star scientist and a star politician to lead them, a fledgling organization called the Center for Sustainable Fisheries was officially launched last week to fight back against what the group believes are hostile regulators and environmental organizations.
The fishery-centered group organized by attorney and former Mayor Scott Lang elected officers at the organizational meeting of its board of directors.
Its ambitious mission: To be a national counterbalance to the government regulators, government scientists and environmental groups who have been hammering at the Northeast fishery in recent years leading to an officially declared "economic disaster."
"Disagreements between the fishing industry and conservation groups squander hundreds of millions of dollars in terms of under-harvested fish, huge transaction costs, standoffs that seem perpetual, and untold hours of unnecessary conferences and meetings," says the center's mission statement.
Beyond that, the fishing industry has been on the short end of many of these disputes, and the center will try to lend influence and expertise to fishing interests buffeted by years of what many believe to be mismanagement.
Lang for years has been critical of NOAA's rulemaking under the Magnuson-Stevens Act that governs commercial fishing, arguing along with former U.S. Rep. Barney Frank that the law's mandate to look after fishing communities has been ignored.
Organized primarily by Lang, the center has as chairman none other than Frank, recruited out of semi-retirement by Lang.
Dr. Brian Rothschild, the world-renowned marine scientist just retired from the UMass Dartmouth School for Marine Science and Technology, is president and CEO. Lang is secretary. Former city Assessor Peter Barney is treasurer.