Tag Archives: john bullard

Jack Spillane: A Shakespearean tragedy on the New Bedford waterfront

How corrupt is the New Bedford waterfront? John Bullard seems to think it’s more than a little corrupt. Jon Mitchell seems to think it’s corrupt mostly with one top guy. And Jim Kendall seems to think it’s hard for the working guys — fishing boat captains to be specific — to be anything but corrupt when the big evil guy that controlled so many boats (Carlos Rafael) also controlled the ability of so many captains to make a living. “It’s a case of what choice did they have?” asked Kendall in a heart-wrenching Standard-Times story Saturday morning. As a working-class stiff who has worked for “the man” all my life, I can very much identify. Mayor Jon Mitchell pointed out in the Saturday story that prosecutors and regulatory authorities endanger the people’s confidence when they overreach. They risk bringing down the whole system when they crack down on too many working men and women who get swept up by a guy like Carlos Rafael. >click to read<

Drag Net – New Bedford shocked by NOAA’s latest move in Carlos Rafael case

Jim Kendall sees fingerprints on NOAA’s most recent allegations that go beyond Carlos Rafael and loop 22 of his captains into the agency’s non-criminal civil action. “I’ll tell you right now, you can print it or not, but I think John Bullard still has his thumb on the scale,” the former fishing captain and executive director of New Bedford Seafood Consulting said. Kendall backed up his claims by saying, “because I know John. He’s a vindictive SOB.” Bullard is the former mayor of New Bedford, but in this case more importantly acted as the regional administrator for NOAA when Rafael was criminally indicted, pled guilty and was sentenced. Bullard also imposed a groundfishing ban on Rafael-owned vessels. “A comment like that is insulting to all the people who do very important and hard work in the enforcement arena,” Bullard said. >click to read<20:12

New Bedford: Industry on the Brink

Two computer screens lit Richie Canastra’s windowless office.  The co-owner of BASE (Buyers and Sellers Seafood Exchange) seafood auction scrolled through scores of financial data associated with commercial fishing landings at 62 Hassey St. The numbers that starred back since NOAA implemented a groundfishing ban last November tell a dark story in an industry already struggling to survive. “With the ban, if we’re not up and fishing by May 1, you might as well just call (groundfishing in New Bedford) over,” Canastra said. >click to read<22:52

John Bullard’s Right whale challenge angers lobstermen

Bullard may have left behind the daily responsibilities of running the Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office, but he took his bully pulpit with him. On Monday, he published an op-ed piece in the Boston Globe challenging the U.S. commercial lobster industry — predominately based in Maine and Massachusetts, where Gloucester and Rockport are the top ports — to take the lead in trying to head off the extinction of the North Atlantic right whales. While he also carved out a role for scientists, non-governmental organizations and fishery managers in the hunt for solutions, Bullard’s emphasis on the lobster industry did not sit well with local lobstermen, who believed their industry was being singled out. >click to read<19:02

John Bullard: Lobster industry must lead on right whales

A NUMBER OF EVENTS over the past two weeks have probably gotten the full attention of the US lobster industry and increased pressure for it to take the lead in fighting the potential extinction of the North Atlantic right whale.  In response to the deaths of the endangered whale, including 12 in Canada last year, Canada has imposed new restrictions on ship speeds and snow crab fishing, as well as earmarked $1 million more annually to help free marine mammals from fishing gear. >click to read<12:03

NOAA FOIA Response Suggests Refusal to Search Council Member Email Accounts for Records on At-Sea Monitoring Amendment

Earlier this month, Cause of Action Institute (“CoA Institute”) filed an administrative appeal of a final response by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (“NOAA”) to CoA Institute’s Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”) request concerning NOAA’s efforts to expand industry funded at-sea monitoring—specifically, to the herring and mackerel fisheries—and to lay the foundation for industry funding across all of New England and the Mid-Atlantic. NOAA’s processing of the request suggests that the agency failed to search email accounts belonging to members of the fishery management councils even though they are subject to public disclosure. Based on the limited records that were disclosed, NOAA’s search appears improperly limited to its own employees. >click to read< 15:00

Post Rafael, New Bedford Fishing Industry Looks to Move Forwad

For perhaps the first time, at least publicly, fishermen on Carlos Rafael vessels sat in the same room Wednesday as John Bullard, the former regional administrator for NOAA, who implemented a groundfishing ban for those vessels. Bullard, wearing a blue NOAA jacket, sat in the front of four-person panel brought together by Rhode Island Public Radio  The fishermen, wearing baseball caps and New Bedford Ship Supply sweatshirts, sat to the left of the panel, which discussed fishing in New Bedford after Carlos Rafael at Star Store.>click to read<21:16

On a dangerous trip, New Jersey fishermen struggle to hold on

It was 10 degrees outside, a blizzard was on its way, and Roy Deal was in no mood to fish. Deal sat in the blue captain’s chair in the wheelhouse of the Donna Lynn, his 60-foot fishing boat, and felt cold air penetrating cracks in the glass. He passed the seawall at 3:55 a.m. Three hours to sunrise. Deal gave the wheel a hard half-spin. The Donna Lynn pitched to starboard, away from the lights of Manhattan. Deal held the turn till his bow pointed north and east, into the black Atlantic. This trip would be dangerous. The pay would be low. And Deal was feeling grumpy. >click here to read< 08:37

John Bullard: SectorIX board’s failure to act stopped its fishing

For New Englanders, Atlantic cod is not just another fish. The Sacred Cod that hangs in the Massachusetts State House is a testament to the cod’s place in our culture and history. For centuries, we fished for cod, as we watched the stock decline, we tried various ways to protect the resource this is considered as much a birthright as a commodity. In 2009, the New England Fishery Management Council under the Magnuson-Stevens Act, agreed to try a system called “catch shares” which worked well on the West Coast. click here to read the op-ed 20:52 

Don Cuddy: Sector closure angers and worries groundfish industry

It was on Monday, November 20, two days before his retirement party as NOAA regional administrator, that John Bullard abruptly ordered the shutdown of Sector IX’s groundfish operations. The boats out fishing had to return to port forthwith.,,, Bullard’s move was praised by some but it engendered some harsh criticism in the city. Click here to read the story. 23:11

PFD’s: Fishing is a deadly business, but many fishermen won’t wear life preservers

One rogue wave or false step, an ankle caught in a line, is all it takes to cast a fisherman overboard. But those risks have never been enough to convince Rick Beal that it’s worth wearing a life preserver. Even though he has never learned how to swim. Commercial fishing ranks among the most dangerous professions, but fishermen — fiercely independent and resistant to regulations — have long shunned life preservers, often dismissing the flotation devices as inconvenient and constraining. click here to read the story 14:46 

While setting New England fishery rules, John Bullard was an exception

He’s been called a Neanderthal and the most reviled man in the region’s fishing community. At a public meeting broadcast on national TV, a fisherman once accused him to his face of lying for a living. As the regional fisheries administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, John Bullard has drawn ire from all sides — fishermen, environmentalists, and politicians alike. His decisions have been routinely controversial, and he has rarely minced words in defending them. click here to read the story 20:53

Mayor Jon Mitchell: Ban costing Port of New Bedford 500K per day

In a letter addressed to NOAA, Mayor Jon Mitchell said the Port of New Bedford could be losing nearly $500,000 a day because of the groundfishing ban. Mitchell referenced analysis prepared by Professor Dan Georgiana of SMAST, which stated the 25-day-old ban caused as much as $12 million (to date) in damage to the port. Mitchell filed is letter Wednesday, the final day in which comments regarding the ban could be submitted. Andrew Saunders, the attorney for Sector IX, the Carlos Rafael fishing division that’s prevented from groundfishing, also submitted a letter Wednesday. click here to read the story 17:55

Officials: Whales, After Deadly Year, Could Become Extinct

Officials with the federal government say it’s time to consider the possibility that endangered right whales could become extinct unless new steps are taken to protect them.,,,  The situation is so dire that American and Canadian regulators need to consider the possibility that the population won’t recover without action soon, said John Bullard, the Northeast Regional Administrator for NOAA Fisheries.  click here to read the story 09:39

Sector IX Responds to NOAA Groundfish Ban

Sector IX sent a 15 page response to John Bullard and NOAA on Saturday after the governing agency banned the sector from groundfishing two weeks ago. The documents sent to NOAA’s Northeast Regional Administrator by Sector IX President Virginia Martins included a six page letter that outlined the grievances with the decision as well as biographies of the new board members and the agenda of an Oct. 26 meeting between the sector and the Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office. click here to read the story 22:33

NOAA Bans Rafaels Vessels from Groundfishing

Calling its actions “unprecedented” NOAA announced Monday that Carlos Rafael’s vessels are banned from catching groundfish for the foreseeable future. The government agency also said the vessels currently at sea on a groundfish trip must return to port, where they will be allowed to unload and sell their catch. click here to read the story 13:11

Fishing fleet dominated by ‘Codfather’ grounded – Jailed New Bedford fishing mogul Carlos Rafael’s empire, once one of the largest fish businesses in the country, continues to crumble. click here to read the story 13:31

Civil penalities from NOAA could be next for Carlos Rafael

Judge William Young’s judgment filed Wednesday appeared to be the finish line to Carlos Rafael’s case. Young, though, by ordering the forfeiture of four vessels and every permit associated with the Bull Dog, the Olivia and Rafaela, the Lady Patricia and the Southern Crusader II began a new ripple effect throughout the commercial fishing industry revealing some questions but very little answers. It’s likely NOAA will take center stage now that the Department of Justice has closed its case. NOAA can bring civil penalties to Rafael. click here to read the story 09:47

Our view: ‘Codfather’ case highlights failings of regulatory system

Rafael, the 65-year-old New Bedford-based fishing magnate, admitted to a judge earlier this year that he had lied to federal fishing regulators about the nature and size of his groundfish landings and bulk smuggling. At sentencing last week, U.S. District Judge William G. Young rejected the argument from the man who liked to call himself “The Codfather” that the fraud was necessary to protect the jobs of his workers. “This was stupid,” Young told Rafael. “This was a corrupt course of action from start to finish. It’s a course of action of extensive corruption designed to benefit you, to line your pockets. That’s what it is and that’s why the court has sentenced you as it has.” Good for Young for handing down a stiff sentence (Rafael was seeking probation). The Codfather’s story, however, does not end here. His arrest and prosecution laid bare a broken regulatory and monitoring system. click here to read the op-ed 09:37

SMAST East opening draws interest nationally

The official opening of the second SMAST facility created ripple effects beyond its location on South Rodney French Boulevard. Construction crews erected SMAST East at a cost of $55 million. The names on the guest list, which packed into the first floor of the 64,000 square foot building Friday, displayed its incalculable value to the SouthCoast. From the political arena, Cong. Bill Keating, Sen. Mark Montigny, Rep. Antonio Cabral and Mayor Jon Mitchell addressed the crowd at the ribbon cutting ceremony. NOAA Fisheries Greater Atlantic Regional Administrator and former New Bedford Mayor John Bullard and former dean of SMAST Brian Rothschild sat in attendance. Eastern Fisheries President Roy Enoksen and Executive Director of New Bedford Seafood Consulting Jim Kendall each listened to the 90-minute presentation that ended with a ribbon cutting. click here to read the story 09:34

Conservation Law Foundation submits victim impact statement in Carlos Rafael case

Within the past 10 days, the Conservation Law Foundation sent three letters to various individuals involved — either directly or indirectly — with the Carlos Rafael case. The foundation doesn’t represent any party directly, but its goal is to “use the law, science and the market to create solutions that preserve our natural resources, build healthy communities, and sustain a vibrant economy,” according to its website. CLF sees Rafael’s guilty plea in March to illegal fishing as infringing on its principles. click here to read the story 21:18

Mass delegation supports putting Carlos Rafael’s forfeiture toward electronic monitoring

John Bullard wants to arm fishing vessels with a smartphone — figuratively speaking. “Nobody has rotary phones anymore, we just assume smartphones are the way we communicate and all the benefits of smartphones we’ve come to expect as normal,” Bullard said. ”(Electronic monitoring) is what we’re going to transition to, but it’s going to take time.” NOAA’s Northeast Regional director said he believes current methods can lead to inaccurate science. Last week, NOAA conducted a fishing stock assessment meeting in New Bedford where similar concerns of bad science emerged. The root of the concern was data from false reports. Electronic monitoring, specifically cameras on vessels, would provide accurate information. click here to read the story 21:39

Trump administration steps in on fishing limits, and the implications could ripple

“The commission is deeply concerned about the near-term impact on our ability to end overfishing on the summer flounder stock as well as the longer-term ability for the commission to effectively conserve numerous other Atlantic coastal shared resources,” Douglas Grout, the commission’s chair, said in a statement. “New Jersey makes a compelling argument that the measures it implemented this year, despite increasing catch above the harvest target, will likely reduce total summer flounder mortality in New Jersey waters to a level consistent with the overall conservation objective,” Chris Oliver, assistant administrator of fisheries at NOAA, wrote the commission in a letter on behalf of Ross. The move infuriated commissioners and fishing officials throughout the area, as well as the region’s NOAA officials. “Ross was brilliant in his decision,” said Jim Donofrio, executive director of the Recreational Fishing Alliance in New Jersey, which represents thousands of recreational fishermen across the country. “The Trump administration has challenged a broken fishery management system in this country, and I applaud them for doing it.” click here to read the story 10:10

Jockeying to control Rafael’s fishing rights ramps up

John Bullard can’t escape Carlos Rafael. People stop the Northeast Regional Administrator for NOAA in the hallway daily trying to pry any information they can about 13 Rafael fishing permits that may be surrendered as part of a plea agreement the New Bedford fishing tycoon agreed to at the end of March. “People come up to talk to me every day on this case. It’s of intense interest,” Bullard said. “I’m looking forward to a day when nobody talks to me about this case.” Sentencing for Rafael is scheduled for July 28. The date has already been delayed once, but it’s likely when the fate of the permits will be decided. The date hasn’t prevented politicians and organizations from already jockeying for position to acquire the permits up for forfeiture after Rafael pleaded guilty to 28 counts including falsifying fishing quotas, false labeling, conspiracy and tax evasion. click here to read the story 07:43

A Message from John Bullard, Regional Administrator – There Is No Silver Bullet for Groundfish

The great philosopher Yogi Berra said, “You can observe a lot by watching.” You can also learn a lot by listening. I try to do a lot of listening. I think it’s the most important part of my job, and of all of our jobs at the Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office and the Northeast Fisheries Science Center. With all of the activity in the last couple of months, there has certainly been a LOT to listen to. For example, we held recreational roundtable meetings in New Jersey and New Hampshire and a commercial roundtable in New Bedford. We also attended the New England and Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council meetings and an Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission meeting.  click here to read the rest 16:14

A Message from John Bullard – Looking Forward to Looking Back: Electronic Monitoring in New England Groundfish

Electronic monitoring (EM) is being used for catch monitoring and reporting compliance in fisheries worldwide, but use in the Northeast has been somewhat limited. There are always challenges with ensuring the accuracy of self-reported fisheries catch data, but EM represents a new suite of tools to improve reporting accuracy and increase catch monitoring. If we want to provide scientists with the best information possible and manage our fisheries sustainably, then we need to consider all of the tools in the toolbox. click here to read the story 07:27 (The tool box is full of monkey wrenches and ball peen hammers)

A milestone in the war over the true state of cod

For years, fishermen from Gloucester to New Bedford have accused the federal government of relying on faulty science to assess the health of the region’s cod population, a fundamental flaw that has greatly exaggerated its demise, they say, and led officials to wrongly ban nearly all fishing of the iconic species.The fishermen’s concerns resonated with Governor Charlie Baker, so last year he commissioned his own survey of the waters off New England, where cod were once so abundant that fishermen would say they could walk across the Atlantic on their backs. Now, in a milestone in the war over the true state of cod in the Gulf of Maine, Massachusetts scientists have reached the same dismal conclusion that their federal counterparts did: The region’s cod are at a historic low — about 80 percent less than the population from just a decade ago. continue reading the story here 08:07

Federal regulators put an end to turbulent season in northern Gulf of Maine scallop fishery

Federal authorities are closing the scallop fishery in the northern Gulf of Maine at 12:01 a.m. Thursday after a contentious three-week season that pitted the interests of part-time, small-boat fishermen from Maine against large, full-time scallop operators. Fisheries regulators announced the closure Wednesday after small-boat fishermen – many of them Maine lobstermen operating 40- to 45-foot boats – met their annual quota of 70,000 pounds. The developments do not apply to the scallop fishery in state waters, which extend to 3 miles from shore. This year’s federal harvest has been contentious because the large, full-time boats are believed to have caught more than 1 million pounds of scallops in the northern Gulf of Maine scallop fishing area, but owing to a quirk in federal rules the fishery could not be closed until the small vessels caught 70,000 pounds. This month’s storms and unseasonable weather had kept the small boats in port, delaying their ability to meet their annual quota and close the area to the larger vessels, who were permitted to continue harvesting large quantities of scallops under federal rules. continue reading the story here 07:57

Comment on Amendment 23 re: Slighted Ports – Jim Kendall

I wasn’t going to offer a comment on this Amendment simply because GARFO & company has once again chosen to ignore the value & the importance of holding a public hearing with the New Bedford/Fairhaven, & Rhode Island groundfish fishermen! My comment with regard to Amendment 23 to the NE GroundFish Multispecies’ FMP remains the same as I last tried to convey to the NEFMC & RA John Bullard! When the hell does New Bedford/Fairhaven, the largest groundfish port on the East Coast, rate a Scoping Hearing? This same question is being raised in Rhode Island as it pertains to them as well. continue reading the rest here 16:34

East Coast fishermen file appeal over cost of government-required ‘at-sea monitors’

fisheries observerThe National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NOAA, requires groundfishermen — those who catch cod, haddock and other common bottom-dwelling species — to carry on board “at-sea monitors.” The observers, hired by three for-profit companies, are third-party workers whose task it is to observe fishermen’s compliance with federal regulations and ensure annual quotas are not exceeded.  The dispute lies in the cost of the monitors and who should pay for them: Fishermen are billed on average $700 a day when a regulator is present. NOAA, meanwhile, says monitors were placed on fishing boats like Goethel’s only 14 percent of the time in 2016 — and claims the fishing industry supported this system of regulation in 2010 when a vote went before the New England Fishery Management Council, an advisory board to NOAA that sets the rules. “At sea monitors were originally supported by the sectors when we went from a days-at-sea form of management to a quota based form of management in 2010,” said John Bullard, the regional administrator for NOAA’s Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office.  Read the story here 14:22

Effort to protect deep-sea coral has lobster industry on alert

10042762_h13584979-600x450Over 400 Maine lobstermen could lose their traditional fishing territory under a proposal to protect deep-sea corals in the Gulf of Maine. The New England Fishery Management Council is considering a plan that would ban fishing in four designated coral zones spanning about 161 miles of federal waters in the Gulf of Maine – Mount Desert Rock, Outer Schoodic Ridge, Jordan Basin and Lindenkohl Knoll. Here, often on steep rock walls deep under water where sunlight cannot penetrate, scientists have found dense, delicate and slow-growing coral gardens of sea whips, fans and pens. During the cold-weather months, when 52-year-old Jim Dow usually fishes for hard-shell lobsters in deep federal waters, his buoys will encircle Mount Desert Rock, where the lobster is so plentiful that boats will sail for hours to drop traps there. As a result, fishermen call it the Meeting Grounds. He said word is just starting to spread about the coral protection plan, but he said the fishermen he has talked with say they didn’t even know there was coral in the deep canyons below. Read the rest here 10:16