CLF and CLF Ventures: or we get rich by litigating the hostile takeover and trading away of public resources for corporate exploitation while claiming to save the planet.


CLF and Amendment 16 Catch Shares

Some origins of the catch shares privatization scheme: “The Cape Cod Hookers” a prototype.

The Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) and their “strategy-consulting arm” CLF Ventures apparently have become fisheries Policy Makers, Litigators, Fishing Quota Fund Administrators, and the authors of a “suite” of fishery conservation goals and the “metrics of success” of this suite of goals. 

CLF and CLF Ventures engineered this catch share privatization scam right from the beginning—with the help of some Cape Cod “fishermen”.  The Cape Cod Trust program was set up as a “success story”, a prototype for the implementation of the Amendment 16 catch shares program, the market-based atrocity that we have today.  CLF Ventures (most deservedly) collects fees along the line “…as the strategy-consulting arm of the Conservation Law Foundation.”

It’s the “doing good while doing well” credo of “Free-Market Environmentalism, the Enviro- Capitalists” or translated: We get rich by stealing and trading public resources while claiming to save the planet.

“In 2007, CLF Ventures collaborated with the Cape Cod Commercial Hook Fishermen’s Association (CCCHFA) to design and launch the Cape Cod Fisheries Trust (CCFT). The trust’s aim is to obtain fishing licenses and other “fishing rights” from the open market and lease these permits back to local fishermen to access fishery resources off of Cape Cod. In return for a permit, fishermen are required to follow predetermined sustainable fishing guidelines.”

“CLF Ventures built a matrix of replicable grant/contribution, debt, credit enhancement, and equity options as well as an itemization of alternative structures which would optimize the Trust’s objectives for purchasing, holding, leasing, and potentially selling fishing quota. Finally, CLF/CLF Ventures staff has helped create a suite of time- phased conservation goals with initial metrics of success. These metrics would be included in leases between the Trust and community fishermen.”

“CLF Ventures develops and delivers solutions to environmental problems through market-based initiatives.” And “We help you better understand your target audience and effectively reach your stakeholders by leveraging our reputation as a trusted environmental non-profit organization.”  under “about us”

“CLF Ventures was founded on the principle that solving tough environmental problems requires more than enacting strong environmental laws and enforcing them; it requires harnessing market forces to bring about environmental change. CLF Ventures’ work focuses on market solutions to environmental problems that advance CLF’s mission to protect New England’s environment for the benefit of all people. Distinct from CLF, CLF Ventures does not do advocacy, policy work or litigation. CLF and CLF Ventures work in concert, using distinct but complementary approaches to achieve the best environmental outcomes.

CLF Ventures bridges the public and private sectors to advance innovative, market-based solutions that benefit the environment, society, and our clients’ bottom line. As the strategy-consulting arm of Conservation Law Foundation, one of the country’s leading environmental organizations, we provide a strong environmental reputation and solid standing with community stakeholders. By leveraging our relationships, policy acumen, reputation, and skills, we deliver insights and strategies that traditional firms cannot, and we strengthen our clients’ ability to navigate critical stakeholder issues, mitigate risks, and develop new opportunities.

“CLF Ventures was formed as a separate 501(C)3 non-profit organization to advance CLF’s mission. CLF Ventures earns revenues for its work, including fee-for-service arrangements, because it adds significant value to its clients’ projects. CLF Ventures revenues contribute to CLF’s operating budget, but do not directly fund any specific programs”.

Marine fisheries and fishing communities in the United States face a myriad of challenges: depletion of resources through over-fishing, excessive by-catch, habitat damage, as well as a rapidly increasing permit ownership consolidation among large corporations, and flawed public policies. The impacts of these problems are most severely felt by the rural coastal communities and fishing families that have for generations depended on the health of the fisheries resource. Extensive job loss, reduced wages, business closings, out-migration (defined as the transfer of the industry to another location as well as transfers of fishermen to other jobs elsewhere), and diminishing fish populations are among the most damaging and chronic effects.  (Underlines are mine, see below reference)

Distinct from community-based management of fishery quotas, community ownership of quotas – held in a permit bank, fishery trust or similar vehicle – is fundamental to the success of a catch-share fishery. Communities are uniquely positioned, politically and practically, to own and distribute fisheries quota as a profitable and sustainable business operation. Communities also are best positioned to reinvest in fisheries management infrastructures, but for the local fishing businesses in those communities to thrive, they must be able to access financing to become long-term owners in the fishery.


“Extensive job loss, reduced wages, business closings, out-migration (defined as the transfer of the industry to another location as well as transfers of fishermen to other jobs elsewhere), and diminishing fish populations are among the most damaging and chronic effects.”

The above description itemizing the ills of the fishing industry, found in CLF Ventures’ rationale for establishing The Cape Cod Fisheries Trust and eventually “…to launch recruitment efforts to build a robust network of functioning permit banks”, ironically is a description which accurately describes the devastating effects of catch shares permit banks and the consequent fisheries consolidation inherent in this “innovative market-based solution” which was so expertly “advanced” by Peter Shelley’s CLF and CLF Ventures.

As predicted by many, this catch shares management scam has devastated the fishery, and as an indication of the integrity and ethics standards of this “conservation” group,  CLF has recently turned on their Amendment 16 lawsuit allies and declared this fishery disaster to be NOAA’s fault for constantly “giving in” to the self-destroying fishermen and their greedy demands for more fish— especially, I suppose, as The New England Fishery Council fully represents and caters to fishermen by succumbing  to the fishermen’s  vast powers of influence.

CLF and Wind

Another wonderful Project CLF Ventures has “consulted” on is wind.  Offshore wind farm programs also fit nicely with the idea of consolidating and controlling independent fishing operations and opening up tracks of bottom for energy exploitation by pushing Marine Protected Areas and the administering (i.e., controlling the quota) of community trusts and permit banks, and therefore, controlling fishing effort and fishermen behavior through bequeathing —or not—the ability to fish through the doling out of permits and quota.

CLF/CLF Ventures, in other words, are lobbying entities and “fund” managers employed by various investors to “grease the skids”, whether it’s for the financialization of the fisheries resource through catch shares or publishing a “guide to the issues”, or to “educate local decision makers” and help them with a “better understanding of perceived negative effects” relating to, for example, “wind projects in local communities” and nifty little economic driver money-makers like catch shares, or the ecological windfall of Marine Protected Areas .  This is essentially a hostile takeover of the fisheries resource, fronting as conservation.

The Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC), a state agency devoted to accelerating the success of clean energy development and jobs in Massachusetts, was looking to build deeper knowledge about the potential for wind projects in local communities and a better understanding of perceived negative effects. MassCEC engaged CLF Ventures to help them develop and execute a strategy that would reach local leaders who are grappling with these decisions.  (Underlines are mine)

“For MassCEC, CLF Ventures developed a thorough, yet easy to understand, guide to the issues surrounding the development of wind energy, and worked with us to engage and educate local decision-makers through a series of regional forums. These have helped local stakeholders to identify objective information on which to base their decisions about wind projects.”- Andy Brydges, Massachusetts Clean Energy Center

It’s no wonder that CLF’s Peter Shelley et al, insinuated themselves into the Amendment16 lawsuit as interveners in defense of NOAA and the catch share scheme.  The catch shares coup was CLF’s money making business plan from the start.  How’s this for a plan to add “…significant value to its clients’ project”:  Shrink , Consolidate, and Control the local fishing fleets in order to expedite clients’ exploitation of the ocean bottom for energy production: “MassCEC engaged CLF Ventures to help them develop and execute a strategy that would reach local leaders who are grappling with these decisions. (Underlines are mine)

CLF: Who let them in?

In 1991 the Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) along with the Massachusetts Audubon Society sued the Secretary of Commerce and NMFS for failing to prevent “overfishing” and failing to “rebuild”  the “depleted” stocks (none of these terms had been adequately defined —but that was OK they were gonna’ sue anyway).  The responsibility for fulfilling the resulting “consent decree” ruling issued by the court —which required a definition of “overfishing” and a plan to stop it within six months (after they decided what the “it” was that they were stopping)—fell to the New England Regional Fisheries Management Council.

This of course was an impossible task.  No one even knew what they were talking about, what these terms actually meant, no less, how to implement or prevent anything; but the significance of the CLF lawsuit was that it was part of a process that might not have been as ridiculous or haphazard as it appears.  This appears to be a major turning point for NOAA/NMFS becoming solely an enforcement and regulatory entity more than a service to the national fisheries.  These law suits in ’91 were manifestations of the not so new fisheries crisis mentality of “overfishing, overfishing, overfishing …stop the ocean-rapers! Quick Before It’s Too Late!!!”   Only nowCLFandfriends had gotten this frenetic bogus approach to fisheries regulation through the judicial, and not long after, through the legislative branches of government and set themselves up as major players in fisheries management in the process.

This year 1991 was when NMFS through Amendment 4 to the Magnuson Stevens Act started to use imperative terms such as “must contain” and “must adhere” to what Congress intended to be “guidelines” in the Magnuson Fishery Conservation and Management Act.  NMFS started to take CONTROL; and then pushed by the CLF lawsuit Amendment 5 in 1994 which gave us “direct effort controls”  in the form of our beloved “days-at-sea” effort control program, NMFS was set up to administer and enforce these direct effort control programs.  NMFS emerged from this legislative, judicial, and managerial spaghetti mess as the Authority and were well on their way to becoming the Authoritarian Agency that we know and love today.  Was this just a happy accident of circumstance for an ambitious bureaucratic NMFS agency, or was this the result of a larger strategy involving the CLF and corporate funded ENGO’s?  Up to this point NMFS had not the charter or the authority that they now were sliding into.

In any case, the CLF and the Commerce/NOAA/NMFS bureaucrats were clearly working in unison and so it’s no surprise that the CLF contingent continues that trend today, for instance, inserting itself into the Amendment 16 Lawsuit in defense of NOAA and Amendment 16 catch shares.

 All the public sees is CLF’s and the other various ENGO’s glossy eco-presentations and their seductive pitches for contributions; so, unsuspecting people anti-up support and feel good about doing the right thing to stop overfishing and help the environment.   All the while these NGO slugs are right in the forefront of fostering the privatization scams that have the world economy wheezing, a lot of people starving, and the environment disintegrating (fish included).

Also “Non-Profits” such as EDF, CLF, Natural Resources Defense Council, Center for Biological Diversity, etc. are nothing more than coveys of lawyers that set themselves up as players in the eco- litigation arena and then collect their “consultation fees” from the various players including from the government whose agencies they are suing.  This is a money scam not unlike the government official-soon-to-be-lobbyist graft in DC or the terror-protection-extortion racket of organized crime.

From the House Natural Resources Committee Website, regarding inquiries into Center for Biological Diversity and taxpayer dollars:

“DOJ Documents Confirm Center for Biological Diversity Received Millions in Taxpayer Funds from ESA-Related Lawsuits”

“WASHINGTON, D.C., June 27, 2012 – The Center for Biological Diversity today sent a letter to House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings claiming their organization had only received $553,000 in taxpayer funds resulting from Endangered Species Act (ESA) related attorney fees and court cases. This claim conflicts with data obtained from the Department of Justice (DOJ), which shows over $2 million in taxpayer dollars have been paid out to the Center for Biological Diversity and their attorneys for cases open between 2009-2012.”

“According to this document from the DOJ containing 276 pages of case information, the Center for Biological Diversity was involved in over 50 individual cases, open between 2009 and 2012, where they were the lead plaintiff. The amount of attorney fees and court costs associated with these cases is $2,286,686.91. Of this amount, $138,114.45 was in court costs and $2,148,572.46 was in attorney fees.”

Non-Profit means Non-Taxable; it does not mean Non-Money.  In the case of the Center for Biological Diversity and Conservation Law Foundation, government collected taxpayer money is being paid out to these ivy-league scam artists when they turn around and sue the very same government’s agencies.  They are getting rich claiming to save the planet and its seas while they put working communities on the bread lines. It’s an industry devastating con that these Eco-Frauds have brought to New England. Here they’ve managed to squash an entire fishery by pushing agenda-driven anti -fishing “science” and the resulting bogus fishery regulations while they get fat on legal fees.

End. Comments can be made here