Fishermen protest 12N Thursday at Martha's Vineyard v Obama, Lubchenco, and NOAA draconian policies
- Fishermen can no longer earn a living to the point that Senator Kerry proposed a bailout for them (8/5/10).
- Thursday outside the harbor of Vineyard Haven on Martha’s Vineyard, where President Obama and his family are summer vacationing.
The protest is being organized after a bipartisan, bicameral coalition of federal lawmakers --
- including the core of the President’s Congressional base on banking and health care issues --
have given up hope of working productively with Obama’s top appointee for oceans and fisheries, Jane Lubchenco, who heads the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Boats from Gloucester and New Bedford, the hub ports of New England, Point Judith, R.I.,
- and New York and New Jersey are expected,
according to Tina Jackson, president of the American Alliance of Fishermen.
The heads of the region’s two primary seafood auctions in Gloucester and New Bedford have agreed to co-sponsor the protest, with the Ciulla family that owns and operates the Gloucester Seafood Display Auction agreeing to provide fuel to boats in need of help to make the trip. An anonymous donor has given the protesters a grant of at least $5,000 for fuel vouchers.
With elements arriving from different directions, the armada is timed to meet in Vineyard Sound at noon on Thursday. The Coast Guard was being informed of the action, Jackson said Monday.
- A co-organizer is the Recreational Fishermen’s Alliance, the lead organizing group behind the national protest outside the U.S. Capitol in February that drew as many as 5,000 demonstrating against federal policies seen as heavily tilted against the industry and unduly swayed by non-government environmental organizations.
Since her appointment to head the NOAA by President Obama, Lubchenco, who had been an officer of the Environmental Defense Fund and a leader of the Pew Oceans Commission, has
- pushed to convert the fisheries into commodities markets under a management system known as catch shares.
In a statement to the Times soon after her confirmation by the Senate, Lubchenco’s office said her goal was to see a
- "significant fraction of the vessels ... removed."
With the stocks rebuilding strongly, fishermen wonder at the need to reduce the size of the work force.
Mayors Carolyn Kirk of Gloucester and Scott Lang of New Bedford have condemned federal fisheries policies for bringing unnecessary
- social and economic hardship as a certain price for the uncertain resource management benefits of catch share regulations.
Lubchenco has argued that consolidation, which has consistently followed catch shares, produces
- fewer but better jobs while giving the government a stronger hand in conservation.
The industry sees catch shares as an invitation for market speculation that will condemn the fishing culture to the
- same fate that conglomeration brought to the family farm.
New England’s groundfishery, America’s oldest continuing industry which had harvested commonly owned resources, was converted to catch share principles on May 1 -- with a total allocation divided and
- distributed to fishermen as catching
- rights that can be bought, sold or traded.
But the minute size of the total allocation and the eccentric mixes of quota from the 15 species and 20 stocks in the groundfishery have pushed many businesses into -- or close to -- insolvency,
- a development that earlier this month brought a proposal from a bipartisan
- coalition of U.S. senators for
- a $100 million buyout.
The planned Thursday protest also comes amid growing anger over a fisheries law enforcement system that has been found by the
- U.S. Commerce Department's own Inspector General’s office to have subjected the fleet to
- vindictive treatment and excessive fines used by the agents and lawyers to finance
- foreign travel and daily operating expenses.
The longtime federal fisheries police chief, Dale Jones was put on paid administrative leave in April following the first report by Inspector General Todd Zinser,
- but Jones remains on the NOAA payroll to the tune of $150,000 a year.
"We will be lining up to protest law enforcement abuse of funds, the blatant arrogance and abuse of Dr. Lubchenco and her ENGO (environment non-government organization) driven agenda, the continued employment of Dale Jones and every other abuse our regulators have punished our industry with over 33 years of corruption and egregious behavior,"
- the organizers said of the protest in a prepared statement.
"There is a call for a protest of all fishermen, commercial, recreational, lobstermen," the statement said. "... Now is the time to show our backbone, our strength and our unity.""
- "Fishermen aim Vineyard Haven Protest at Obama" Boston Herald, by Richard Gaines of Gloucester Daily Times, 8/24/10
- photo above is my father. ed.