Saturday, May 15, 2010

Fish and Oil: NOAA’s attitude gap

“At the global scale, probably the one thing currently having the most impact (on the oceans) is overfishing and destructive fishing gear” (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration head Jane Lubchenco in an interview on the website on April 7, 2010.)

Jane Lubchenco was awarded a Marine Fellowship from the Pew Charitable Trusts in 1992. Since then she has been in the forefront of a handful of foundation-subsidized scientists supported by a frighteningly effective media machine that has trumpeted one and only one message: fishing is behind most of our ocean-related problems.

The Pew Trusts were established by the children of Sun Oil founder Joseph Pew and are directed by a Board of which Pew family members are in the majority.

Since Ms. Lubchenco was a Pew Marine Fellow, a small handful of ultra-rich foundations – led by Pew – have spent tens of millions of dollars on demonizing fishermen via ENGOs and academic institutions. Chief among the organiza-tions and academics has been the Environmental Defense Fund and Ms. Lubchenco (prior to becoming NOAA head, she was Vice Chair of the EDF Board). The mechanism to do this has been the creation and perpetuation of the belief that we’re in the midst of an ocean crisis caused by fishing.

These foundations have spent millions of dollars initiating and supporting legislative changes that have put fishermen’s boats, livelihoods and futures at risk for stepping afoul of any of a seemingly endless array of meaningless (in terms of conservation) regulations. They have spent millions of dollars on insuring through the courts and the federal bureauc-racy that the Secretary of Commerce zealously enforces every burdensome regulation inflicted on U.S. fishermen. And they have spent millions of dollars to convince the public, as Ms. Lubchenco stressed less than two weeks prior to the beginning of the Deepwater Horizon tragedy began in the Gulf of Mexico, that fishing is the major threat to the health of the oceans.

In the time frame over which this has been done, the fisheries in U.S. waters have been steadily improving. In fact, the latest NOAA/NMFS report on the status of our domestic fisheries charts the steady increase - in terms of that agency’s own Fish Stock Sustainability Index – over the last decade from 357 to 573, an increase in the sustainability of our fisheries of 60% (

You can see the end results of these anti-fishing expenditures in fishing ports from Maine to Florida to Texas, from Southern California to Alaska, in Hawaii and in the U.S. offshore possessions: empty docks, abandoned vessels and shuttered businesses that used to depend in whole or in part on fishing for their existence. And for the last decade you could see them as well in the print and broadcast media’s treatment as headline-level gospel of every biased bit of fisheries “research” accomplished by foundation subsidized scientists and blaming virtually all of the oceans’ ills on fishing.

You can also see the results in the huge slick that is now floating in the Gulf of Mexico, in the closed fisheries, the lost tourism dollars, the threat to beaches and wildlife from Texas to Florida’s East coast and beyond, and in the weeks of futile efforts by the oil industry and the federal government to shut down the well. It’s sort of like the Keystone Cops, but with wide-ranging and tragic consequences.

The rest is available on the FishNet USA website by clicking on the link at the end of the "Current Edition" section.

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