“Rebuilding economically valuable fisheries goes hand-in-hand with protecting fishing jobs and supporting coastal communities,” Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke said.Sorry, but NOAA has done little to nothing to protect fishery jobs and they have had ample opportunity to do so. In fact they have publicly said they want to consolidate the fishery.
“This is another instance of our continuing effort to use whatever flexibility is available to us to protect fishing jobs and the long-term vitality of local fishing communities as we continue rebuilding the valuable groundfish stocks in the Northeast,” said Eric Schwaab, assistant NOAA administrator for NOAA’s Fisheries Service.
In this case they are allowing an increase in the Yellowtail Flounder Catch and saying they are doing it to preserve fishing communities. The sheer hypocrisy of these statements leads me to believe that they actually think people are stupid. When they talk amongst themselves, they are saying quite a different thing.
It would in fact be nice if NOAA could get behind efforts to ensure a diverse fleet and sustainable fisheries. One might think it would be an obvious choice to help create more jobs rather than eliminate them. One might think it would make sense to have a fleet that can provide higher quality product (like the fish we get at CAFC) while preserving and even creating fishing industry jobs.
But what if your aim is not really to protect fishing communities and a diverse fleet, but rather to create investment opportunities for the big wigs?
I can say however that there are folks working hard to actually preserve a diverse fleet and fishing communities. CAFC's Angela Sanfilippo has worked tirelessly for decades to support, protect and ensure the safety of the New England fleet.
Currently, NAMA (Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance) is pushing hard for new rules that will place restrictions on the rapid consolidation of fishing rights. It is an uphill battle. Those who have much to gain from a consolidated fleet are working around the clock to stave off any restrictions on their ability to buy up fishing rights.
If you have any interest at all in preserving a diverse fleet, now is a great time to speak up. You can let the decision makers at NOAA/NMFS/NEFMC acronymville that you care about a diverse fleet by doing a video testimony, submitting a written testimony or testifying in person at the next NEFMC meeting. If you would like to testify, please contact me and I will help you through the sometimes confusing process of getting NOAA to listen to real people.