NOAA Fisheries Names Doug Lipton Senior Research Economist – Nice! Another Enviro-Capitalist—just what we need.

February 2, 2013

Read the full story on the NOAA website   Since NOAA pretty much finished off most New England fishing based on disgracefully shoddy science at the Portsmouth council meeting last week, it appears that people are waking up and wondering what’s behind all of this obvious hostility towards the fishing industry.  How could our own government be so hell-bent on eliminating traditional coastal family fishing operations that have supplied millions of pounds of the cleanest food on the planet for over 400 years?

Why do we seem to be up against not only the Commerce Dept. (which is really about international trade), but apparently the Dept. of Interior (Minerals Management Service: Wind, Oil/Gas and Metals) and the Energy Dept., as well (you didn’t think the Way-Too-Bigelow was really built for fish surveys did you? Try deep ocean exploration for rare-earth metals and other minerals like oil and gas).

Why is this happening?  Who are the Enviro-Capitalists? How did they come to power? (And if you don’t think they’re in power, listen to the directives from Conservation Law Foundation and Environmental Defense Fund representatives at the Portsmouth meeting’s public comments regarding Habitat Closed Areas.)


Let’s face it, there are trillions of dollars right off of our shores.  Some of it is swimming around, feeding and spawning; but most of the potential profit is either in energy buried way beneath the sea floor; or some of the money is “Blowin’ in The Wind”; and some might be from harnessing the motion of the ocean from the “Cradle Endlessly Rocking” (wave energy capture).

Regardless of our poetic connections to the sea, big business wants our oceans. They want the oil, gas, and other minerals, the wind and wave energy; some might even want the fish…but only on an industrial scale, please.

Such a business strategy is laid out nicely in the below linked presentation by the World Bank Fisheries Team Leader at a 2009 conference.  It makes the case for an economic justification of fisheries governance reform.

Microsoft PowerPoint – Kelleher Sunken Billions for WWF1.pps

Economic justification (or Profit Motive) is exactly the moving force behind the catch shares scheme and the fishing eliminating posture of the regulators.  (You didn’t think CLF’s and Pew’s lawyers were really worried about the health of our fish did you?)

But here’s their challenge: how does big business and their “partner” government agencies such as NOAA and their ENGO corporate fronts, such as Environmental Defense Fund and Conservation Law Foundation, Pew, Oceana, etc., get rid of a centuries old small boat fishing tradition and secure the right to take over the continental shelf without looking like all-consuming BLOBS?

They need a strategy to deal with all these pesky “little people” who are littering the beach and fishing from their scows along the coast—squatters and itinerants, part timers, addicts and alcoholics all, according to EDF’s David Festa, Vice Pres. of Finance (in his pitch selling catch shares to Milken Institute investors).


If you want to own something first declare it a disaster, then save it, and then drastically alter it—make it your own creation.   Name a villain.  Strike a pose.  Save the day.  Claim the spoils.  Get rich quick.

The first step was an ecological disaster had to be created or at least simulated in order to open the door for “sweeping management regime change” and the imposition of drastic measures to save the fish resource—a “day of reckoning”, so to speak.

NOAA and her partner Ecological Non-Government Organizations claimed the fish and the ocean habitat were in dire straits (after twenty years of austerity “rebuilding”).

“Well, at the global scale, probably the one thing currently having the most impact is overfishing and destructive fishing gear,” said Jane Lubchenco, former vice chair of EDF and now former head of NOAA, as she compressed into a sound bite her stance on facing the ocean’s problems.

     Lubchenco’s statement listing fishing as the primary ocean stressor, while omitting any mention of oil drilling, took place only months before the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe.  Through the expansive and very well funded (remember the oil profits are over $40 billion per year) ENGO public relations campaigns during the last few decades, small boat fishermen have been made out to be the villains; while certain oil and financial industry driven environmental organizations, are set up as the heroes …“saving our seas”.  They have accomplished a complete role reversal.

Corporate backed NGO’s have, at this point, successfully diverted public attention from the all too real and crucial ecological threats to our oceans, namely, increasing ocean water temperature and acidity, polluted estuaries, disappearing wetlands, and oil and gas drilling and transportation catastrophes.

They’ve commandeered the public’s well-intentioned concern (and donations) and their sincere alarm for the environment and have managed to turn it against local fishermen, effectively painting the coastal small boat fishing industry as a cause célèbre, the perpetrators of the degradation of the oceans.

But who then will save our oceans?


With a hefty public relations spin, corporate money and influence will operate under the cover of free-market environmentalism saving the oceans (while they rob you blind), or Enviro-Capitalists: Doing Good While Doing Well the title of the “path-breaking” book (just ask him) by Senior Associate Donald Leal and co-author Terry Anderson president of PERC “The Center for Free-Market Environmentalism”  This site is worth looking into as an indication of the level of “thinking” that goes on in this kind of enviro-“Think-Tank”.  It’s nothing new; it’s only NOAA/EDF/Wall Street, et al, on their commoditize everything campaign.  It’s the “free market environmentalism movement” or the Enviro Capitalists: Doing Good While Doing Well.

That title itself tells the story.  The mechanism behind this econo-scam is the private ownership of the shares of a natural resource.  Catch shares fisheries management, for example, is an extension of this faulty de-regulated free-market theory of economists such as those in the Milton Friedman school of privatization-is-the-answer, which in this case goes by the name of Free Market Environmentalism.  This is the approach of ownership equals responsibility, or render a commodity profitable enough and somehow the good nature of the owners and the “intelligence” of market capitalization will automatically stabilize and sustain that resource or industry.  The economic incentive will be a force that improves the resource and the environment.  For a natural resource such as a fishery this thinking is based on the following principles:

       – Private property rights encourage stewardship of resources

       – Market incentives spur individuals to improve environmental quality

       – Government controls and subsidies often degrade the environment

       – Polluters should be liable for the harm they cause to others

This idea is a farce.  If you believe this con, I’ve got a gorgeous Gulf of Mexico I’d like to sell ya’ (in as is condition).  Market capital dynamics are based on very short term profit, very very short term these days, with computer generated trading, millions of trades can be made instantaneously, and some $3.2 Trillion of world market capital changes hands every trading day.  This is not exactly the environment where the long term stability of a resource would be considered.  One only has to look at our esteemed multi-national corporations’ environmental record so far in order to understand why the phrase “Free Market Environmentalism” is a contradiction of terms.

The PERC “institute” was started years ago, a front for usurping publicly held natural resources for private capital fun and profit. Information can be found at , Property and Environment Research Center, a “think tank” located in Bozeman, Montana, which proclaims itself as having …“championed the successful approach [ITQ’s] to eliminating overfishing (see”

On the bio page of Terry L. Anderson, Exec Dir of PERC, an economist, see his publications including one of my favorites: Saving wild tigers could mean eating them (move over Monty Python). In this piece of ecological brilliance he proposes that we should farm and eat tigers in order to assure their existence since they are one of the more endangered species (I wonder how much you’d have to pay the wranglers on such a ranch).  He also thinks everyone should have an oil well and natural gas fracking in their back yard …literally.  It’s only patriotic …the least we can do, and “…the only way to get off foreign oil”.  And don’t miss his Should Water be Privatized? Yes —a must read.  This is the kind of “thinking” that is influencing our national policy on resources, including our fish?

Read Donald R. Leal’s, PERC’s Dir of Research (an MS in Statistics which more than qualifies him to write treatises on the fisheries) Fencing the Fishery: A Primer on Ending the Race for Fish, this is a cute little PERC booklet (from 2002) and a glossary of almost all the bogus ITQ talking points.  Donald works “…in collaboration with the Environmental Defense Foundation and Reason Foundation” —surprise, surprise.
These are your environmental capitalists.


Therefore, I am not encouraged when I read from NOAA’s announcement flyer that the new Senior Research Economist, “Dr. Lipton, is an Associate Professor in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics at the University of Maryland”, and “…he has been instrumental in developing innovative policies that use economic incentives to drive environmental improvements”.
Read the full story on the NOAA website

From Dr. Lipton’s statement, “I am excited and honored to be appointed NOAA’s first Senior Research Economist” and reading further from the NOAA announcement “…who also noted that economics and social science research are fundamental to maintaining a vital economy and a healthy ecosystem.” (Underlines are mine)

“Supporting the well-being of our coastal communities is one of this agency’s priority missions”,
Dr. Richard Merrick said, NOAA Fisheries Chief Science Advisor, when introducing his new research economist.  Really?  Supporting the well-being of our coastal communities?

“More generally, I will build on our already outstanding economic and social science research program, and to ensure that research results are used to inform our policies”, said Lipton.  “…our already outstanding economic and social research program”?
This after NOAA just put hundreds of New England fishing families out of business and out of their homes?

We have an Enviro-Capitalist at the helm of NOAA Fisheries Socio-Economic Research?  Looks like more of the same Catch Shares and Aquaculture Plan—“to end overfishing”.

Unlike Doctor Lipton, I do not feel so “excited and honored” about his appointment.

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