Environmental Groups

NOAA Catch Shares Fishery Debacle


Barrack Obama came to office with an agenda to fundamentally change America.  An element of his agenda is a plan, known as catch shares, to restructure the nation's fishing industry.  The author of his plan is Dr. Jane Lubchenco, the environmentalist rock star and former vice chairperson of the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF).  When it comes to the oceans, the protection of fish, and the punishment of the evil fishermen, Dr. Lubchenco is as extreme as Obama's former green jobs czar, Van Jones.

Obama, with no managerial experience himself, didn't simply make Dr. Lubchenco one of his numerous czars -- he anointed her as the head of NOAA despite her own complementary lack of managerial experience.  Effectively, Obama has given the EDF control of the $4-billion, 13,000-person government agency that oversees the national fisheries.The EDF wrote the 184-page playbook titled "Catch Shares Design Manual" for the plan that Dr. Lubchenco passed on to President Obama.  From page 2 of the manual:A catch share program allocates a secure privilege to harvest a specified amount of a fishery's total catch to an individual or group (groups can be community-based). Under a catch share program, managers establish a fishery-wide catch limit, assign portions of the catch, or shares, to participants, and hold participants directly accountable to stay within the catch limit.

NOAA Again Trumps your rights as US Citizen

From the Publisher: Welcome to the new year. In a direct violation of all things Constitutional, NOAA is going to use their incredible infiltration into the Department of Commerce to close down all fisheries. Just like we told you, the true agenda of Socialist/Marxist Jane Lubchenko, our President's choice (or maybe friend Soros' choice??) for running NOAA is a woman whose history of attachment to the UN, completely and transparently socialist, anti-free-market organizations like PEW and Tides and the Packard Foundation shows us how much she thinks of us. We demand the House -- now run we hope by people who feel the constitution trumps EPA and NOAA -- investigate this woman's continuing role in the UN, UNICEF (remember the Marine Spacial Plan???) and why she's the person who now tells us where, when and what we can fish for. I, for one, cannot wait to be a test case -- to see how her determination that fish are in danger, and need her to help them -- can get me arrested. Interestingly enough, George Soros recently said that "The world needs a conscious, and my organizations are that concious. I would bet good money they have each other's personal phone numbers. If you read this and don't pick up a phone and call soon-to-be-legal Senator Marco Rubio and ask him what he intends to do to protect this state from communism coming from Washington DC.

The Marine Fisheries Advisory Committee (MAFAC) advises the Secretary of Commerce on all living marine resource matters that are the responsibility of the Department of Commerce. MAFAC members will draw on their expertise and other appropriate sources, such as the National Marine Fisheries Service, to evaluate and recommend priorities and needed changes in national programs which includes the ongoing reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens, the Endangered Species and the Marine Mammal Protection Acts. The members represent a wide spectrum of fisheries interests, environmental, academic, state, tribal, consumer and other related national interests.

From the Environmental Right...

From the Publisher: Meeting Jim Smarr was quite an experience, and one I'm not likely to soon forget. Sporting a mustache that clearly took attention to detail, the man carried character. With my usual (and total) lack of appropriate behavior, when I first caught his eye I asked "Let me guess. You work for the Environmental Defense Fund." His steely glance and a drawl that indicated the dark fluid dirtying the soil in grandma's garden turned out to be Texan Crude (he said "I beg your padon, suh") carried with it a sense of humor I've come to know and cherish in the short time we've known each other. We talk a lot, Jim Smarr and me. You'll learn more about him, but a brief history would tell the tale of a family that traces its Texan blood to the year 1810, and a guy who -- when told he could count the months he had left to breath -- spent a good part of a fortune chasing billfish, drinking expensive whiskey, and living. I'm glad he survived, and did it in style. He's the kind of guy that would rather die while he was living, then live while dead (Jimmy Buffet's word painting, not mine).

The single most pressing issue facing fisheries management seems to be how to manage our fisheries into the next century. A diverse cross section of anglers seem to be scattered all across the spectrum as to how best manage the highly sensitive eco systems for maximum benefit to all user groups.

We have Bait, Fly, Soft Plastic and Top water fishermen who all seem to have a very different focus. There are some user conflicts arising. One group seems to think the other is taking more than their fair share of fish. Some want to have areas designated for specific use only such as no motor zones or wade fishing only. The tournament fishermen are after the trophy big dollar catch. The guy who occasionally fishes just wants a few fish to have for dinner.

The solution to this overall problem could simply be corrected buy habitat restoration. The Ixtoc oil spill in Mexico caused most of the fourteen historical coastal passes to be closed. Many of these remain closed today. Natural fish passes allow our eco systems to be cleansed by fresh Gulf saltwater flushes. The fresh saltwater inflows via open passes would allow all species to travel to the Gulf to complete their life cycles. All bays sportfish have to make a run to the Gulf to spawn. The closed passes have greatly restricted the ability to maintain healthy populations. During freeze conditions the ability to have warmer Gulf inflows would help maintain bay water temperatures or allow fish to escape to the warmer Gulf waters. With increased Coastal Populations the need to have proper water circulation via currently closed passes to reduce water born pollutants from run off is vital.

The Jobs Obama Hates (Not fishing?)

I'm asked -- more and more as this incredible story unfolds, what politics have to do with fishing. An article I just found in the The New York Post answers the question. The title of the article? Jobs O Hates. The "O" is our president. The jobs he hates (I thought it was all about jobs, wasn't it?) include one close to my heart. I can't help myself. After mining comes fishing. Who hates fishing??? I thought it was a good thing. Was my Uncle Eddie lying all those years I was growing up? Is that joy I see on the faces of kids learning to fish somehow dark? Now evil?

The New York Post isn't where I would normally look for respite from the slamming we're currently receiving from the Administration, their friends at EDF, their puppets at the Fishery Management Councils, and the environmental progressive left. Until you've been spoken to like an errant student in a classroom (even though you're in your fifth decade as a citizen of the United States and the people treating you like that are actually in no way your intellectual, ethical, moral, or any-al superior), you can't really conceive the ideological attack on our fisheries and with them our way of life. An awakening is in order.

Here's the paragraph from the article (by Ben Lieberman, senior fellow in environmental policy with the Competitive Enterprise Institute in Washington, DC).

Fishing: Obama's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is imposing strict fishing limits, even where there is little or no evidence of an overfishing problem. Its controversial catch-shares program is destroying jobs in such fishing communities as Gloucester and New Bedford in Massachusetts, both of which are challenging the program's legality in federal court. 

What's up with the over-regulation? What's up with being treated like that bad-boy student being told to get out of the classroom? Attitude. Like the attitude of a president that just doesn't like what we do, why we do it, or where we do it. The water belongs to him after all. And we ain't talking "Him".

Take note of the flag on the front of the first boat at the dock in the image used in the article in the Post, though. It's running the RFA flag. It's a sign of the coming together of the recreational and commercial industries in what is apparently a two-side attack. EDF is behind every bit of what's going on. What the article fails to underscore is the close, largely-hidden, and continously-denied relationship between the EDF, NOAA, the Fishery Councils, and the money. Just answer that question and perhaps the truth will begin to show its head, and the rats will leave the kitchen.

Click HERE to Read the entire New York Post article. Fishing's only one of them -- but the one that bothers us the most. It's death by a thousand cuts, though. Just ask the people running family farms throughout our nation. They call their site FarmWars.

The Most Cooked-up Catch

From the publisher: This was the feature article in the July 27, 2009 issue of High Country News by Matt Jenkins

It's hard to put a finger on what drives the wild popularity of Deadliest Catch, the Discovery Channel's series about crab fishing in the Bering Sea. Pulling load after load of crustaceans off the bottom of the ocean seems like pretty thin stuff for a runaway entertainment phenomenon. Yet the show has somehow won over more than 4 million viewers and garnered five seasons of red-hot ratings.

Granted, the weekly drama of the Red Bull-guzzling, cigarette-huffing, bleepity-bleeping captains doing battle with 13 million pounds of king crab does give the show a certain NASCAR-worthy je ne sais quoi. But if there's a single secret ingredient behind the show's success, it is the drama of the multimillion-dollar fishing derby -- starring the likes of Phil Harris, spitting blood and tearing his hair out as his boat gradually falls apart around him, and Johnathan Hillstrand, like a Hells Angel behind the wheel of the Time Bandit -- to catch as many crabs as possible before the government drops the checkered flag on the season. Though it's not much discussed on the show, the scramble for crab is just a videogenic symptom of a larger -- and potentially catastrophic -- problem in fishing: Too many boats chasing too few fish.

"You could've had 25 boats easily catching the whole quota," says Edward Poulsen, a second-generation Bering Sea crab fisherman. "But there were 300 boats."

That free-for-all brought a host of problems, from environmental damage caused by carpet-bombing the ocean floor with crab pots, to bankruptcies and a chilling roster of lost fishermen and boats that sank after they ventured out into fierce storms so they wouldn't get left behind in the race. For years, crab fishing in the Bering Sea was the deadliest job in the country -- more likely to kill you than going on foot patrol in Iraq.

But even as the Deadliest Catch rocketed to popularity, the hard lessons of two decades of racing for fish were finally sinking in for fishermen in the Bering Sea, and they were voluntarily agreeing to end the race. You'd never know it from watching the show, but only one season after it hit TV screens, crab fishermen in Alaska began fishing under a new system that permanently divided up the annual catch between all the boats in the fishery.

"The whole dynamic of the fishery has changed," says Kale Garcia, another longtime crab fisherman, who owns a boat called the Aquila.

In the Bering Sea today, the race for crab is now over. But the fishery there is just one ripple in the tide of a revolution that has swept the fishing world over the past 20 years. Today, fisheries for everything from fish-stick staples like whiting and pollock to high-end delicacies like halibut and sablefish operate under "catch share" programs. Many more, including a major groundfish fishery on the West Coast and one in New England, are now following suit. Jane Lubchenco, the marine biologist who now heads the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (which manages the nation's fisheries) has launched a concerted effort to institute catch-share programs in as many U.S. fisheries as possible.

Yet even as the tide rises for catch shares, the fleet and the crews in the Bering Sea are still contending with far-reaching aftereffects -- something not seen on TV, and not much discussed by catch-share boosters.