Letter to the editor in rebuttal of “Anonymous”

Recently Fishery Nation published an opinion piece first published in Granitegrok.com entitled “Something Smells Like Rotten Fish”. I agree: the rotten fish is the anonymous author. My name is David Goethel, and I am a semi-retired commercial fisherman with over fifty five years’
experience and author of the book Endangered Species about my life as a small boat fishermen in New Hampshire. I am also a dues paying member of the New Hampshire Commercial Fishermen’s Association.

The author states Erik Anderson supports offshore wind and selectively quotes from the electronic newsletter to support his belief. Nothing could be further from the truth and reading anonymous’ comments I feel like I am in a “through the looking glass” moment. The author has apparently never attended a BOEM public hearing. I have, numerous times. Hell no, we won’t go is not considered by BOEM to be valid public comment. Erik always starts each statement with a preference for no offshore wind in the Gulf of Maine(GOM), but then modifies the comment citing scientific papers or verifiable charts of where fishermen fish. Our comments have been successful as BOEM repeatedly references our use of science as they have shrunk
the call area from over 140 million acres to a little over one million. Remember we are up against the full force and weight of the federal government which has been ordered by President Biden to get these areas leased before the next election. Erik’s comments in the newsletter were to people like anonymous, who have steadfastly refused to engage in the process, and are now enraged that leasing is about to commence. As Erik points out the next possible remedy will be through the courts. Unless someone has a spare three quarters of a million dollars laying around, do not expect equal access under the law.

Next anonymous states there are hundreds of members paying fifty dollar per year dues. That too is false, there are 47 dues paying members, but the attack does not stop there. Anonymous then selectively cites information from the newsletter to imply fiscal impropriety. The facts are that the corporation was dissolved to save money. The chief expenses are dues to the Responsible Offshore Development Alliance (RODA) which has paid legal experts and biologists to represent fishermen nationwide in their uphill battle against OSW. The association also provides funds from collected  dues to pay for educational scholarships for sons anddaughters of commercial fishermen attending institutions of higher learning. On advice from an
accountant many years ago, the association maintains di minimus status with the IRS because we handle so little money.

Not content to just liable Mr. Anderson, anonymous moves on to attempt to smear candidate for Governor Kelly Ayotte. Perhaps anonymous is a political operative for another campaign? What I do know is there is lots of inference but no fire. I also know I have worked with Kelly Ayotte when she was a senator. She visited fishermen in both Seabrook and Portsmouth and acted on their concerns in Washington. She also held a field hearing about NOAA Fisheries in Portsmouth saving fishermen the considerable cost of flying to Washington to testify. During those hearings I found her knowledgeable on fishing subjects, highly intelligent and decisive. Her grilling of a NOAA Regional Administrator at a hearing at which I testified was memorable. I believe she will be an excellent governor and support the organization’s endorsement.

Finally anonymous drags suspended Port Authority Director Geno Marconi into the web stating without offering any proof that he was suspended because he opposed offshore wind. The waterfront has been buzzing with gossip since the suspension occurred and Erik, along with numerous others, are listed as the supposed cause of the suspension. Gossip is an unfortunate occurrence in small towns. The only facts we know is that the matter was briefed to the Pease Developments Authority Board by the Atorney General’s Office in a closed session. That body issued a statement saying Mr. Marconi was suspended with pay over a ‘civil matter’. Anyone who tells you anything else is spreading venal gossip and showing their own ignorance.

Erik Anderson donates well over 1000 hours of his time annually to the association so that active fishermen can stay fishing. He covers legislative hearings in Concord, Fish and Game Commission hearings wherever they occur, ASMFC public hearings, as well as NOAA Fisheries hearings. He is not reimbursed one dime, including gasoline, for that coverage. How many of these meetings has anonymous attended?

As an author I am loath to request anonymous’ post be taken down. After all freedom of speech is one of the cornerstones of our democracy. But the first amendment has limits. One of those is the tenants that you cannot make knowingly false statements that liable another. I do believe, at the very least, that editors should request anonymous identify themself so the public can judge the motives for the article.

I am proud to sign my name to this document and have attached a full copy of the May 8, 2024 newsletter sent out by Erik, for readers to see the whole story for themselves.

David T. Goethel
F/V Ellen Diane Too
23 Ridgeview Terrace
Hampton, NH

May 2024 Newsletter

New Hampshire Commercial Fishermen’s Association

Hello to All,
It sure has been a tough start to spring but it will get here one inch at a time. There’s still a variety of issues that need attention or updates so here we go.

ASFMC Lobster Management / Gauge Increase – At a public hearing meeting at the Urban Forestry Center this past Monday (5/6/24) it was discussed about the equivalency measures between the U.S. and Canada when the gauge increase goes into effect on 1/1/25. Basically it is to be determined that Canada won’t be able to ship lobsters smaller than the U.S. gauge after 1/1/25. They will have to cull their Canadian lobsters to match our new U.S. gauge. Their were comments on resistance to the gauge increase but Cheri Paterson, NH Fish & Game stated that the gauge increase aspect of the amendment was already approved by ASFMC. There will be a vent size increase in 2026 and another 1/16 “ gauge increase in 2027.
Opinion – I do not think that the proposed gauge and vent increases will produce the desired results to increase the lobster resource and only cause
economic disruption across the board. While it might be to late to stop the 1/16” increase in 2025 the vent increase in 2026 and another 1/16”gauge
increase in 2027 is unnecessary. Something must be done !!!

Offshore Wind – The Bureau of Energy Management (BOEM) has issued its Wind Energy Areas (WEAs) to be leased in the Gulf of Maine. In looking at these areas (2 in mid coast Maine and 6 in southern Gulf of Maine) it appears with some logic that the transmission cables associated with the wind turbines will be traveling into Maine or the Cape, Salem, Plymouth, MA areas and not New Hampshire. No guarantees but it looks to be the logical path. A comment might be in order with the fact that this association was very active in its public comments to BOEM against the development of wind farms in the GOM but if they were destined to be our comments suggested to leave NH fishing grounds out of consideration. In
looking at the proposed lease areas we protected our fishing areas.
Opinion – This Association has been tracking offshore wind development for over 3 years and participating in the process along with alerting fishermen to also participate. Because it has advanced to its present condition there is now an effort to stop them all together. Unless you have a direct line to the White House it appears to be to late and it’s a steep expensive uphill climb with remote possibilities to stop them. The current Washington administration has dictated that offshore wind will be part of the US carbon free energy plan. We won’t stop monitoring offshore wind development and we urge everyone to do the same.

Licensing of Commercial Fishing Operators – Last month I mentioned discussion on requiring all fishing vessel operators on vessels less than 200 GRT (which would be everyone) to acquire / hold a US Coast Guard merchant mariner license. I have been trying to get further information about this discussion that took place at the National Commercial Fishing Vessel Safety Advisory Committee meeting this past April 9-11. 2024 but as of yet have gotten no details. More to follow.

Fisheries and Politics- These two words are like “fire” and “water” when brought together and many fishermen despise that politics are a factor in their business. Unfortunately and without doubt the two words do mix for whatever the side of the coin you want to look at. More and more it is happening so the truth to the issue is that we must play more of a part in recognizing the mix whether on a national, state or local level. This association has stayed away from aligning itself politically but has had the ear of elected officials who listen and respect our opinion or perspective. Coming this year is going to be the election of a new Governor of New Hampshire. This association has had great relationships with current and past governors, and it behooves us to continue that pattern. In looking at the candidates this year the former Mayor of Manchester, Joyce Craig is
running along with former state senator, Chuck Morse and former state attorney general and former congressional senator Kelly Ayotte. I don’t think Joyce Craig knows the bow from the stern. Chuck Morse helped the industry on the diving for lobsters bill and Kelly Ayotte helped the fishing industry many times as attorney general and even better as a US senator. We stuck our nose out for the first time this year to endorse Kelly Ayotte. We tried to engage Chuck Morse early on for a conversation, but he never replied. Between Kelly or Chuck, they are good candidates from a fishing industry perspective.

Scholarship Program – While we have announced this program regularly every year we have had no applicants. This year we have had two applicants that will be reviewed. I will send these applications out to some respected members pf the association and pending their review make an award within a short time.

2024 Trap Clean- up. – It was another good year for the trap clean -up with over 106 participants between Rye and Hampton collecting just under 10 tons of fishing gear debris through the course of the event. Even more impressive is that participants accomplished this from 8:00 am to 1:30 pm. We should be proud of the effort that has occurred for over 30 years and great to see the amount of increasing participants. Congratulations to all.

Association Status – On occasion it requires some review of what the New Hampshire Commercial Fishermen’s Association is and how it functions.
1) It is a all volunteer organization with no paid staff or positions.
2) It functions to represent concerns and issues of the New Hampshire Commercial Fishing Industry.
3) We have no status as a corporation, LLC, or 501 C organization and function in the simplest and most effective manner to accomplish our goal.
4) Membership is $50.00 / year which is without doubt a prudent membership
fee in comparison to other similar organizations.
5) Our expenses are minimal because of our volunteer status and while we would hope to have more revenue to do more things we do not want to
financially burden our members.
6) We currently have approximately $5500.00 as available funds which are monitored by a separate treasurer of the association.
7) Spending of these funds are scattered to other pro-advocate fishing organizations or reimbursement to members who have has out of pocket
expenses related to association matters.
8) We do not have an internet sight or internet presence but if anyone of our members have the capacity to put the association in that media we would welcome that opportunity.
9) In the past we have had a board of directors represented through each NH harbor. Through time that has evaporated but must be renewed and hope there would be interest from fishermen to participate. I have tried to maintain the thoughts and position of the New Hampshire commercial
industry but it’s time to gather a new board of directors. It requires a lot of time and effort to do so. We have had trouble with a getting a regular
meeting place which is difficult but I will try and gather a location and meeting date. More to follow.
10) We have been effective on countless matters and are respected in our position on issues of importance to our industry.

Personal Note – Many are aware of Geno Marconi’s paid administrative leave at the Div. of Ports and Harbors. The reason for that action was made by the Pease Development Board of Directors for reasons only known by them and related to civil matters conducted by the attorney general’s office.  There is no reason to comment on them because we don’t know but I have heard that for some reason my name has been inferenced by exactly who I don’t know or any reason but to start a rumor. Let it be known to anyone who is passing the rumor that I WAS NOT PART of any effort to have anything to do with his can at least contact me anytime to substantiate your accusations. My number is 603-234-7038 or my e-mail address.

Sorry to end on such a note of anger but it upsets me when individuals make statements or start rumors that are false.

I’ve gone on long enough. With everyone gearing up for the season – good luck and be safe. As always I welcome any replies, suggestions or comments.



One Response to Letter to the editor in rebuttal of “Anonymous”

  1. borehead - Moderator says:

    This is a submitted comment from Jim Lovegren.
    “Dave, thanks for writing this rebuttal to the anonymous letter posted criticising Erik Anderson and his work for the New Hampshire fishermans association. I have known both of you for over 25 years and you both have done an excellent job fighting for the fishing industry despite the fact that the government has been hell bent on destroying it. What kind of coward would write such a critical letter and not be man enough to sign his name? Fishermen who are willing to become fishery managers accept the fact that they have to make decisions that have serious effects on their fellow fishermen, and that many of their decisions may not be popular within the industry. Many of those decisions may also be a matter of picking the lesser of two evils, because it never seems that there are any good alternatives. In my experience I always found both you and Erik to be among the most respected and effective NEFMC members. In my 50 plus years of fishing industry experience I have watched as fishermens associations have been created and fell by the wayside for various reasons. Funding is the most critical, and as our industry has been exterminated it leaves fewer and fewer fishermen to pay the dues to keep an organization running. New Hampshire fishermen have been lucky to have the both of you dedicate so much of your lives to fight for the common good of all fishermen. I would recommend that if you want to keep the association going that you call a meeting or three to hash out the differences and let the critics see exactly what the association has been doing with Erik’s free time. I bet that all of New Hampshire’s fishermen put together have not attended as many meetings as either you or Erik. They were out making money fishing while you two were sitting at BS meetings attempting to save their livelyhoods. And what do you get for that? An Anonymous letter. I hope you guys can fix the problem, which might very well be just a misunderstanding of the issues, but if you don’t address them the association will fall by the wayside. like many others before them, good luck, Jim

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