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Entries in Dr. Jane Lubchenco (10)


Architect of Catch Shares Leaving NOAA

Dr. Jane Lubchenco is stepping down as administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. She orchestrated the attempt to privatize a public resource --- saltwater fisheries --- through a scheme known as Catch Shares.

The Washington Post provides this vanilla assessment:

“Still, Lubchenco was praised Wednesday by the Ocean Conservancy. 'Dr. Lubchenco and NOAA were quick to respond to the BP Deepwater Horizon oil disaster and continue to play a pivotal role in ensuring that the Gulf region, including the marine ecosystem, is restored,' said interim president and CEO Janis Searles Jones.

“Lubchenco also oversaw in 2010 the controversial transition to a new fishery management system in New England that allots fishermen individual shares of the catch, which they pool and manage in groups.

“The system aimed to give fishermen flexibility to fish when the market and conditions were good, and free them from being restricted to an ever-dwindling number of days they were allowed to fish. And it pleased environmentalists because it established hard, enforceable catch limits to better prevent overfishing.

The Gloucester Times was a little more on target:

Her departure from the Obama administration will end a four-year regimen that promised revitalization of the fisheries via a new economic system based on privatization known as Catch Shares but instead produced a declared fisheries disaster in the Northeast and a spontaneous resistance by industry all along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts.

“Finding her style to be imperious and rigid, U.S. Congressmen John Tierney, Barney Frank and Scott Brown were united in calling for the president to replace Lubchenco by mid-2010.

“Fishermen were galvanized by dislike for her personality and policies — especially the commodification of the groundfishery, which has been in a steady decline since her appointment — and held national rallies at the Capitol in 2010 and 2011 that drew more than two dozen members of Congress.”

This could be interpreted as good news for both commercial and recreational anglers. But the reality is that President Obama has four more years and the person whom he appoints to replace Lubchenco likely will be just as bad --- or even worse.


Do You Care Enough to Fight for Recreational Angling?

Do you care enough to fight for recreational angling? Or will you continue to go fishing and ignore the threat until it’s too late?

I hope that you will read what follows and then get involved. Join Keep America Fishing.  Write to your federal representatives and senators, urging them to oppose the National Ocean Policy and National Ocean Council.

Get involved. Please.

*                      *                          *

Not surprisingly, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) likes the National Ocean Policy (NOP), which would zone uses of our waters, inevitably telling anglers where they can and cannot fish.

The sad and all too predictable aspect of this support is that the NRDC tries to make the argument that the NOP “will help fishermen.” I’d have much more respect for the organization if it simply supported the Big-Government strategy and left it at that.

Instead, it uses misinformation, half-truths, and, yes, even lies to try to convince anglers to swallow the cyanide pill because it will be good for them. One of the most blatant lies from the NRDC blog is this:

The National Ocean Policy’s development benefitted from a robust stakeholder engagement process, which included hundreds of recreational and commercial fishermen and the organized sportfishing lobbies.”

The truth is that the NOP policy was a done deal when President Obama took office in January of 2009. Environmental groups put down the foundation as soon as he was elected in November of 2008. Most everything since has been window-dressing, to make it appear as if a “robust stakeholder engagement process” has been occurring.

Certainly organizations including the Recreational Fishing Alliance (RFA), the American Sportfishing Association, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, and others have lobbied on behalf of anglers from the beginning, and they continue to do so. But they’re playing against a stacked deck.

Provided by RFA, here’s an example of angler “support” for the NOP, from October testimony before the House Natural Resources Committee:

40:20 - Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ) provides single token letter of angler support for the executive order (implementing NOP), that of John McMurray, an advisor for Environmental Defense Fund hand-picked by Dr. Jane Lubchenco to represent New York fishermen at the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council (MAFMC).

1:34:10 - Rep. Don Young (R-AK) grills Dr. Lubchenco on her comments that "quite a few fishermen" support the executive order, though she's unable to produce a name except to say the MAFMC ("same one as you put catch shares involved into," replies Young.)

The only brief interruption for the Big Government steamroller occurred in the spring of 2010. Largely unnoticed, I had been writing about the Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force (precursor to National Ocean Council) since the previous fall, warning that it posed a threat to the future of recreational fishing for ESPN’s now defunct Outdoors website.

And that leads me to the second lie in the NRDC blog:

“Shortly before the National Ocean Policy was established, a firestorm broke out when a columnist for spread the unfounded rumor that the policy would close off large swaths of the ocean to fishing.”

Here is what really happened:

In March of 2010, a disreputable internet “journalist” found one of my articles and, in response, posted a piece with a headline that screamed “ESPN Claims Obama Is About to Ban Fishing.”

But I didn’t say that in any of the 10 articles on the subject that I had written to that point. And I still haven’t said it.

What I said and continue to say is that the National Ocean Policy puts into place a system that threatens the future of recreational fishing. It will be death by a thousand cuts as one fishery after another is closed by “zoning.”

Yet, that yellow journalism directed enough attention to the issue that the Obama Administration was forced to address concerns about recreational fishing. In other words, it was slowed for a time, doing damage control.

Since, the Big Government juggernaut has been rolling right along.

But with the close of public comments for the NOP implementation, pushback is occurring, both in Congress (See my previous post) and at the state level (See States Fight Back Against National Ocean Council on Feb. 13). Additionally, court challenges likely will be coming under the 10th Amendment, which preserves states’ rights.

The odds are against us, especially in the short term, but we might win this battle yet if enough anglers will fight for what they love.


Catch Shares for Whales Exposes Hypocrisy of Management Strategy

Nothing exemplifies hypocrisy like blind adherence to an ideology. In this case, it’s the Big-Government, we-know-better-than-you ideology practiced by the Obama administration.

Led by Jane Lubchenco at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and her Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) cronies, the feds have been pushing to implement Catch Shares in our oceans’ fisheries.  They argue that they do so for conservation, to prevent overfishing.

In reality, Catch Shares imposes Big-Government management of a public resource for private profit. All that this fisheries version of cap-and-trade does is limit participation, mostly in the commercial sector to begin, but inevitably for recreational anglers as well.

Now, according to the Gloucester Times, two of Lubchenco’s colleagues are proposing a similar strategy to “end commercial whaling.”

Hmmm. If Catch Shares would end whaling . . .

Oh, silly me. There I go, with a conspiracy theory.  The real problem isn’t with Catch Shares; it’s that my narrow mind can’t grasp the reason that Catch Shares could end whaling but not do likewise to fishing.

Not surprisingly, the Obama administration doesn’t want to deal with its own version of “an inconvenient truth.” The Times reports that it “deflected questions Wednesday about the proposal for a global catch share program for whales.”

The EDF said that it “isn’t actively involved in whaling politics and policy, and we feel there are substantial differences between fishing policy and whaling.

“Catch Shares is an effective answer to the serious problems facing commercial fisheries, which is good for the species that live in the oceans --- including whales.”

Yeah, right. Next time that you’re out on the ocean, look around. I’m sure that you’ll see whales sporting “Catch Shares Now!” signs.

Now, courtesy of the Times, here are some responses to this proposal from people living in the real world:

"'Catch and trade' applies market forces to reallocate public or 'free' resources to seemingly more beneficial outcomes," said Brian Rothschild, the distinguished marine biologist at University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, advocate for the commercial fishing industry and critic of the catch share regimen created in 2010 to govern the New England groundfishery.

"For example, application of the catch-and-trade system to global whaling can be used to eliminate commercial whaling — whoever has the most money wins. But is this an ethical approach to resource allocation?" Rothschild wrote in an email to the Times.

"Many of our resources are owned by the 'public,' or by 'society,' or are 'the common heritage of mankind (such as national parks and air space),'" he added. "Should they be for sale?"

Others agreed.

"This 'market proposal' to saving the whales is just another example of the commercial privatization of our oceans for the benefit of private enterprise," said Mitch Jones, fish program director for the consumers' group Food & Water Watch.

"If the real goal is to reduce the number of whales harvested every year, then we should start by enforcing the International Whaling Commission moratorium on whale hunting," he said. "We could begin by no longer permitting 1000 whales to be taken for the commercial market under the guise of 'scientific research.'"

"This proposal," he said, "is really just a Catch Shares for whales program, allowing whalers the opportunity to buy and sell the right to hunt whales. That's not a solution to the problem of harvesting too many whales.

"The proposal is another example of the wrongheaded belief that a resource has to be privately controlled in order to be sustainably managed," wrote Jones.


Many Fisheries Are Well Managed and Sustainable

Just as they have with climate change, environmental groups have promoted and profited from "doom and gloom” regarding the world’s ocean fisheries.

They have been aided and abetted by movies such as End of the Line and publications such as Nature. In 2005, the latter published a piece that said, “Fishing in the ocean is no longer sustainable. Worldwide, we have failed to manage the ocean’s fisheries --- in a few decades, there may be no fisheries left to manage.”

And with Jane Lubchenco from the Environmental Defense Fund and her allies taking over the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration under the Obama administration, this philosophy now permeates government policy. It’s evident in the National Ocean Council, the Catch Shares scheme, and the push for marine protected areas.

But just as the climate change scenario has been discredited by discovery of falsified data, so too do facts belie doom and gloom for the world’s ocean fisheries.

In other words, it ain’t happening.

Dr. Ray Hilborn confidently put a stake in the heart of such fear-mongering during a recent presentation at a Saltwater Summit sponsored by the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. In fact, the professor from the School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences at the University of Washington received the loudest and most enthusiastic applause of any of the speakers during the two-day event.

The title of his presentation, “The Sustainability of America’s Fisheries: Will All Fish Really Be Gone by 2048?,” was adapted from a 2006 Science article, which proposed such a catastrophic occurrence.

Using science and statistics, particularly stock abundance, Hilborn systematically dismantled the three main myths of the doom and gloom crowd.  Those myths and his responses are as follows:

1. Myth: We are fishing down food chains and will have nothing left but jellyfish.  Response: Fisheries begin with the most valuable, not the top of the food chain. The most valuable include species such as sardines and crabs.

2. Myth: 80 to 90 percent of the large fish in the ocean were gone by 1980. Response: Catches have increased three times since 1980 for tuna and billfish. Bluefin tuna are overfished in some waters but stocks are rebuilding and they are not in danger of extinction.

3. Myth: If current trends continue, all stocks will be collapsed. Response: Rebuilding of stocks is happening. There is no silver bullet, but the broad range of tools being used is sufficient. MPAs (Marine Protected Areas) and ITQs (Individual Transferable Quotas) are not necessary or sufficient.

But why didn’t you hear about Hilborn’s repudiation of these arguments?

“We didn’t make the New York Times or the Washington Post, as did that 2006 report,” he said. “We were on the ninth page of the Times. This stuff (good news about fisheries)  doesn’t  sell.”

The world catch from industrial nations has been stable for 20 years, the professor said, and he emphasized that MPAs are not an important part of the management system in rebuilt fisheries.

“Foundations and NGOs (non-government organizations) spend more than $100 million per year on marine issues,” Hilborn said.

“They thrive on doom and gloom about the survival of our fisheries.

“But data has begun to convince many NGOs and foundations that many fisheries are well managed and sustainable.”

Charts and graphics used by Hilborn for the presentation can be found here, along with other summit programs. When I view Hilborn’s, however, some sort of technical glitch eliminates letters “f” and “g.”


House Members Seek to Shut Down Catch Shares, Protect Recreational Fishing

Members of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus (CSC) have sent a letter to the House Appropriations Committee, opposing new Catch Share programs for the Gulf of Mexico.

“If enacted, this (Catch Shares) could have a crippling effect on recreational angling along the Gulf Coast,” said Jeff Crane, president of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF), which works closely with the CSC on issues of concern for anglers and hunters.

Signed by 23 members of the House, the letter requests that language be used to restrict new Catch Share programs for Gulf fisheries in the fiscal year 2012 Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies appropriations bill. Just a few days before, other CSC members sent a similar letter for Atlantic fisheries.

“Just as members who have Atlantic coastlines in their districts desire to keep new job-killing Catch Shares programs from being implemented, so too do we, the undersigned Gulf coast members desire to prevent new Catch Share programs from wrecking our costal economies,” the letter says.

“We are alarmed by the crippling job losses experienced along Atlantic Coast as a result of these Catch Share programs. A similar disaster can be avoided in the Gulf of Mexico by preventing the establishment of new programs in our region until several conditions have been met, including requiring the use of better scientific research and data collection from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and economic impact statements.

“These tools are necessary to accurately measure the economic impact of Catch Share programs, and we believe it is in the best interests of our coastal industries to restrict funding for Catch Share programs until these common sense conditions are met.”

Since she took over NOAA in 2009, Jane Lubchenco, along with her friends in the Environmental Defense Fund, have been determined to implement Catch Shares, a scheme for limiting access and turning a public resource into a commodity managed by the federal government, in which only a few favored interests benefit.

By the way, the CSC and the CSF are possibly the best friends that anglers have these days in Washington, D.C. Check out the CSF website to learn more.

“We are in a sustained fight for survival of our outdoor heritage. One does not win a fight by backing up, and this is why we have such strong respect for CSF. They don't compromise our basic interests,” says Phil Morlock, director of environmental affairs for Shimano.