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.