Have you had enough?

By John Rice


Since its inception in 1976, the agency charged with managing our fisheries, the NMFS, has overseen their decline, a decline which in most cases was a product of their own machinations. Usually most ideas the government has for managing our lives are well intended but terribly executed, this was a prime example. NMFS, for all that it was intended to be and do for our fisheries, has failed and in some cases, this wasn’t by mistake, but by design.

The greatest recent example, being the catch shares system in the New England multi species fishery. How NMFS ever allowed themselves to enact a system that was designed to be an end run around the very specific language of the law that created itself, the MSA ( Magnuson Stevens Act), is but one of many (purposeful?) actions taken by this agency, and also why, so many of our fisheries have failed or are failing.

This agency has slowly but surely taken away the rights of fishermen in it’s efforts to regulate the industry. Many cases where the resource wasn’t in decline but other species were being negatively effected, ushering in legal obstacles to overcome for the agency and ultimately, the industry itself, when groups started using the courts or even just the threat of the courts, to influence the attitude of managers, to the point where regulations were promulgated with that thought in mind, making a regulatory environment that was lawsuit proof, became the new normal.

Catch shares, was overseen by a woman named Jane Lubhenco, who was the head of NOAA, but had previously been with EDF (Environmental Defense Fund). The parent agency of NMFS, is NOAA, and to have the head of the agency that is basically in charge of our aquatic environs, run by a lawyer, who was formerly an employee of a NGO which is for all intents and purposes a slickly veiled, well funded environmental terror cell, see:
http://www.wrongkindofgreen.org/the-group-of-ten/environmental-defense-fund/“ Created in 1967 by a small band of lawyers seeking to ban DDT, EDF [Environmental Defense Fund] evolved into George Bush’s favorite environmental group.

The group is the premier advocate or market-oriented solutions to environmental problems. EDF was a cheerleader for NAFTA, and gets excited about pollution credits, emissions trading systems and user fees for recreational use of public lands. It hosts the Barbra Streisand Chair of Environmental Studies, the perch of scientist Michael Oppenheimer, who advocates buying up development rights in the Third World as a solution to global climate change.

EDF convinced McDonalds in 1991 to reform its solid-waste disposal practices and to move from Styrofoam to paper packaging (but remained mum on quality of food, ecologically destructive ranching practices and abusive treatment of animals and workers.) In cooperation with major timber companies, the group developed a “paper-use task force,” whose recommendations discreetly ignored sustainable alternatives to paper such as industrial hemp and kenaf. Inc. magazine praised president Fred Krupp for his ability to “speak capitalism.” “Much more recent actions of their chronic interference in our regulatory agencies :

(Washington, D.C. – December 6, 2018) Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) filed a lawsuit today to compel the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to release public records about the Clean Power Plan, super-polluting “glider” trucks, methane pollution from oil and gas production, and the agencys communication with …Dec 6, 2018This group is basically a terrorist organization. They don’t use bombs and suicidal zealots, they use paper and lawyers. But, they are but one of many NGOs who have not only thrown wrenches in the gears of commerce and influenced our industries regulators, they’ve gotten rich and powerful doing so.

Almost every agency tasked with anything related to our environment, has been involved with some group who insists upon being involved, because they have some claim that a proposed regulatory action or lack thereof, will have such negative impacts that they are compelled to act on behalf and the various agencies, often cannot afford to litigate a suit or do and lose, that these groups are now able to wield a tremendous and all too often ideologically driven or ultimately motivated sword, which they can and do use because our environmental agencies can and won’t fight them.

Unfortunately, fishermen are fiercely independent and extremely resistant to change and it is unfortunate, insomuch as it is why so many of them are able to persist in the face of such a determined effort to demonize and cede their abilities, but also it prevents them from unifying as a whole, against the collective of regulatory agencies and NGO influencers that have made being a fisherman so difficult.

It’s quite a dichotomy. Fishermen, are able to withstand an incredibly complex and physically demanding world when it comes to putting on the boots and producing, but they don’t fare so well when it comes to being unified as a whole, as opposed to just being unified based on their fishery, like a trawlermen’s association etc. Some of this is on purpose, some of this is from being innocently ignorant and some is a mix of both. Regardless of why, and regardless of how some groups have formed and support themselves and also support others as well, the point remains, in the big picture, we are all losing. 1976 was a long time ago, the slope of our decline from actual importance as an industry to our domestic economy and food security, has been so slight, most haven’t noticed until it was too late.

Some noticed but maintained an indifference as they knew it would take so long to affect them to the point it was too much. Meanwhile NGO’s, some funded by big energy money with scores of lawyers and dedicated project teams, kept whittling away at the industry, sometimes from within, as in CCCFA etc. It’s been death by a thousand cuts.

Beyond all that, is that we’ve been sold short by the other half of the industry, the one that until recently, without the domestic producers, couldn’t exist, the market, the distributors and to a lesser degree, the consumer. This industry has had more than enough negative factors imposed on it, for sure.

Question is, what can or can anything be done to change it? I think that all goes back to the fishermen and to those that care, the markets and consumers. The enviro terror gangs are winning, lets be clear about that. Its not really even a contest anymore, they have so much money and are so deeply entrenched in it’s regulatory mechanisms that it will take some creative thinking to work around them, as they’ve done to the fisheries themselves.

Unfortunately, this usually requires the help of political figures and as most have seen, politicians love to have their pictures taken with fishermen, looks great for the human interest side show in the news etc., but when it comes down to it, they forget the fishermen once they are back in Washington. It’s a Herculean task, getting some serious changes made to how we regulate what we regulate and who does it, but it’s basically all there is left to affect any real hope for the industry to survive as a means to making a living, not just to those with money to invest, but to any who would, given the access.

Since we’ve already given away and or sold or limited access to almost everything, it’s nearly impossible, I’m sure some would even say unfair… Seeing that the means by which almost all of our fisheries are managed is somehow tied back to the MSA, it seems that the best, although probably not the most popular way to straighten things back out, wouldn’t be through reauthorizing MSA, but by replacing it, or even just eliminating it, with the exception of the 200 mile limit as it applies to foreign vessels. The problem there, is so many people are so deeply vested in so many exclusive situations, they’d likely be vehemently opposed to any regulatory/legal changes that would leave them exposed.

So, where does it all start? Probably the most bang for the buck, is with putting pressure on the people who pay the regulators, ie; congress.The facts are on our side, but getting any of them to pay attention, is the problem. There are some who’ve listened, tried to help, but a few isn’t enough.With EDF, PEW, Oceana, and so many others out there, working full time to impress our legislators, it won’t be easy.

We had rallies in Washington DC and still basically nothing came from it. Being nice, being decent, being respectful, has gotten us nowhere. In my opinion, the time for being decent, has passed. Its time to start getting those legislators who are doing nothing for us, to either start doing what we need, or pay the price.Over 90% of our seafood consumed here in America, is imported. Perhaps, folks should start tying the legislators to this, expose how they’ve done nothing but pose for photo ops and make empty promises.Expose who they take money from and what the financiers true motives are.

Social media is a great way to get attention, kinda like the Epstein didn’t kill himself thing. But that’s just one thing, there’s a lot people can do, but only if their willing to deal with the pushback and the negativity that any concerted efforts would see from the NGO;s who as we’ve come to learn, will do just about anything and everything, to tarnish our industry. The NGOs have deep pockets.

There’s a lot of money at stake here, much more than just the fisheries. Development and energy rights are at stake and fishermen stand as one of the last vested interests that have a reason to oppose them. Unfortunately, fishing’s importance has been both diminished to a novelty and has been demonized to the point where too many people have been sucked into believing that there simply isn’t room for fishing and a healthy

Almost every fishery that has been curtailed by regulations, was done so, in order to unfetter the future for those who would impact our environment negatively, see: Florida Net Ban…. 23 years later and the fishing’s never been worse. But there’s condos and beachfront houses along almost the entire coast!The fishing industry has been put down for so long, it seems as if it’s gotten used to it. Apathy is rampant, folks have gotten so used to being denied, that they’ve accepted it as normal, big problem.

The enviro’s aren’t going to suddenly have a Jimmy Stewart moment and realize they’ve been doing wrong after all these years and they aren’t going to stop, unless we stop them. They’ve infiltrated our ranks and have pitted us against each other…..and its working. Too many fishermen’s associations have taken the enviro’s money and have allowed themselves to rationalize it, see: CCCFA and PCFFA.The markets and distributors who’ve gone along with this are just as responsible for the industries decline as the enviros themselves. They obviously don’t care where the products come from, as long as they make

Too many fishermen are also of the same mind, they don’t care about what happens to the rest, as long as they get theirs. Its not that they don’t care so much, usually, its that they are loathe to speak out for fear of their being next on the list of fisheries put under by regulations.As long as some folks are fishing and there’s a few boats to take pictures of and a few fish in our restaurants from local fishermen, most folks don’t understand the scope of the problem. But they’ll go to Walmart and buy a big bag of frozen shrimp from India and think nothing of that as well. The consumers are the biggest losers in the decline of our domestic fisheries, they’re being fed poison, both literally and figuratively. With folks like the MFCN and terms like or being thrown at them in commercials and on labeling, consumers too have been led down the primrose path to hell, by these environmental groups.Its time someone started telling them the truth.

Its time someone found a way to make the govt. start listening to us and to find a way to rid ourselves of the intentional interference from these NGOs and those who’d turn a blind eye or worse conspire with them to decide the outcomes of our industry’s access. We’ve taken it for too long.

Lastly, NOAAs budget is nearly $6,000,000,000.00. The entire domestic fishery is only about that much. See a problem?

It takes almost 3 years to change a federal regulation. In 3 years an entire upturn in a fishery can be lost to no access or overexploited, either way, 3 years is too long.

The council system is broken, its corrupted by the influence of the NGOs just like NMFS and NOAA.We’re spending as much to regulate of fisheries, as the fisheries are making, and we’re losing access all the time. What all started off as a good idea, has become the very thing that is now decimating our industry and will continue to until we, as Americans, somehow find a way to stop it, hopefully before its too late…..

2 Responses to Have you had enough?

  1. Willy says:

    Anything and everything that the Federal government touches is a disaster for the people. The whole Lubhenco fiasco was one of the most blatantly corrupt examples of power brokers stealing the resources from the people through “Catch Shares”. The PFMC is absolutely owned by ENGOs who work hand in hand with a few people from certain fishing interests in a “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours ” relationship.

  2. Ec Newell Man says:

    John, I do hope this receives greater circulation as everyone has to read and consider how deep the swamp has become in removing fishermen from the fishing industry around our country.

    The Council has continued to have their regulatory role lessened due to the growing reliance on these various factions such as the SSC, PDTs, FMAT as well as the staff people who have literally become their own cottage industry within the Service. They will continue to grow their budgets, create more jobs for people who sit behind desks and manipulate the models, and have more influence in shaping the specifications as fishery management grows in scientific and statistically complexity as they continue to talk about uncertainty along with the risk of over fishing even fully rebuilt stocks.

    There will be survivors who will be able to weather the continued restrictions, but most will struggle and a number will continue to fall by the wayside each and every year due to the now inherent instability the Service has created in the fishing industry.

    The reality should be in recognizing that one major regulatory change can be so economically impactfully that everyone who fishes should plan and have an exit plan at hand when you are forced to be tied to the dock for an extended period of time. It is not only the reality, but as much with what some wise fishermen said back in 1976 in making that deal with the devil in allowing the government to get into the fishing business….

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