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Oct 30 09 11:14 AM
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PEW-trified Fisheries Management.
It's great to see all you fishermen out here exercising your right to
Oct 31 09 2:50 PM
I'm a relative newcomer to Gloucester; I've only been working with fishermen here for about 15 years. I'm not
a fisherman; I'm a scientist. True scientists like to ask questions they don't already know the answers to. You have a right to ask questions and to
have them answered by people who don't automatically profit from a pre-scripted response.
For example, "Whatever happened to the Frequently Asked Questions on the
New England Fisheries Management Council's (NEFMC) website? How many of you can recall the old chart they had which used to show the stock status of the 12
key groundfish stocks back in 2001? How are those stocks doing and what would that chart look like today? Is it really necessary to read the whole 900 page
Groundfish Assessment Review Meeting (GARM III) 2008 report to answer that simple question? Don't you have a right to know?
Well, being a scientist, I guess I can make a chart as well as the next guy and
after waiting 8 years, I figure it's about time it got updated. What do you think? Wouldn't you like to see how the fish story turned out?
So, the first step was to see if the data in the (GARM III) alone was sufficient
to reproduce the earlier chart. Does this look familiar?
How many of you would like to see the same data for the last 6 years? Now I
didn't pick the stocks and I didn't change the NMFS data (although some of it is probably wrong), still some revisions had to be made. First, the
redfish stock had to be dropped because they are doing so well (Spawning Stock Biomass -SSB nearly 200,000 mt) that the bars wouldn't fit on the chart. So
that looks like this?
Now, the critics might say, OK, but Georges Bank Haddock is doing so well (SSB
over 300,000 mt) that it skews the results. So, let's drop that too, which brings us down to ten key stocks. Not my favorite ten stocks mind you, but the
ones that the Council picked back in 2001. That brings us down to this. Does this look like a failed fisheries management strategy? These 10 stocks taken
together are at their highest spawning biomass level since 1991. Now, when I update this after the next stock assessment, I will probably have to remove Gulf
of Maine Cod. That poster child for collapsed fisheries, is recovering so well that GOM cod in 2007 was at the highest level in nearly thirty years (with SSB
greater than 33,000 mt)
So what can we learn from these charts? First, most of these stocks are doing
pretty well and are on the rise. Certainly, this is not typical of a failed fishery. Second, most are well on the way to full recovery, they just need a little
You know I heard on the radio this week that swine flu is spreading fast and
that the vaccine is behind schedule. According to the CDC, they were expecting 140 million doses of vaccine by now, but they only have 15 million ready to go.
Their excuse was that some organisms take longer to grow than others. Think about it, in a controlled experiment watched by the world's top microbiologists
they missed their estimate by over 120 million doses simply because nature intervened. They got only about 10% of the recovery they expected.
Did they scrap their plan or fine people for overutilization of the resource?
No, they told everyone to "wait, be patient, the plan is working, it will just take a little longer than expected, because some things in nature take
longer to grow than we anticipate."
Before NOAA scraps all fishery management plans and embarks on "Catch
Shares of fish stocks" (or is it "STOCK SHARES OF FISH CATCH" I can never keep that
straight) shouldn't we be asking what would be the result if we just waited a year? Certainly, No species would become extinct if we fished on last
year's severe restrictions. In a year, NMFS could update the stock status, sort out the errors in fish landings and begin to figure out actual allocations
so fishermen could make informed choices about their futures. In a year, we could have a referendum (required by law) and we could begin to look at the
infrastructure changes which will inevitably result from a 50% consolidation (contraction) of the New England Fishing Industry.
In a year, we might even begin to understand the real conflicts of interests of
those who are pushing this industry, like lemmings forcing the others to the edge of a cliff. If Council members are required to divulge financial interest
shouldn't NOAA positions requiring congressional approval also require full financial disclosures? Shouldn't we have the right to access that data
under the Freedom of Information Act to investigate conflicts of interest?
So maybe fish recovery charts are not what you want to hear about today.
Let's ask some more questions. How much has Pew actually spent to influence Ocean Policy in the last decade? That's an easy one since many of the
grants are on their website; so all you have to do is add them up. The number is a minimum of $135 million in the last ten years.
How much can Pew buy with $135 million? Well clearly they can buy a lot of
influence and apparently they can buy a lot of science too; but only the kind that agrees with the Pew agenda. Who knew you could even buy the year
2048? Recently, the Pew-paid scientists said they didn't mean to be taken literally when they
estimated that most marine stocks would be gone by 2048. Well it turns out that years like 2048 have a long shelf life and you can't give them back. . If
you don't believe me just try to Google 2048 together with fish and the million references you get will all be about Pew phony science.
What else can you buy with $135 million? You can certainly buy a seat at the
table for fisheries management; but Pew wasn't happy with just having a seat or two, so they bought the whole table. In fact, if you look at all types of
Pew grants over the past couple of decades, you will find that they gave away over $1.3 billion to mold society in their image. But don't worry; I'm
sure that a multi- billion non-profit which pays zero taxes would not want anything in return. That's why in their last public tax filing they carried over
$75 million in oil and energy stocks and more than 100 million in the stocks of health care companies.
Now you might think that they can buy almost anything with a billion dollars.
But there was one thing or one person the Sunoco people couldn't buy. My dear friend, Father Thomas Kocherry gave them back their $100,000 + Pew fellowship
and he may be the only person who ever said no to Pew's so-called help. He is in the hospital at this time or he would probably be with us now; for he
represents all that Pew fears. He is a priest, a lawyer and a fisherman and he can't be bought. He has represented over 1 million fishermen in India in
their struggle over oppressive fisheries management. Father Tom always speaks truth to power; something Pew and their minions hate more than taxes.
You may be thinking, "What does all this Pew/Sunoco stuff have to do with
me? That is ancient history and we're just fishermen. Think again! While I was preparing for this talk I happened to go to this week's Rally
announcement at the Gloucester Daily Times website. There, just below the comments, I noticed a little add which said "Preventing Overfishing." So
being the curious type, I clicked on it. That took me to the Pew Charitable Trusts site labeled "Setting Annual Catch Limits for U.S. Fisheries; An Expert
Working Group Report, 2007". When I opened that report I found that the working group was actually convened by MRAG America's Inc, the Marine
Resources Assessment Group who prepared the report "initiated and supported by the Lenfest Ocean Program" (another tentacle of PEW) At the top of the
list of Participants was Andy Rosenberg of UNH, who just happens to be the President of MRAG Americas. MRAG provides advice to the Council's on how to set
Catch Limits. Under the amended Magnuson-Stevens Act, who do you think is empowered to set Catch Limits? It is of course, the Council's Scientific and
Statistical Committee on which Andy Rosenberg coincidentally serves in New England. Can NMFS spell conflict of
interest, because they certainly can't seem to recognize it when all the power is concentrated in one man or one organization?
So let us speak truth to power today. Let us peacefully demand our rights to
keep fishing sustainably and to protect and defend our fishing communities when they are under attack by misguided and intolerable ocean policies. Let us
demand that these blatant conflicts of interest be investigated and eliminated.
Let's claim a right to fish and to earn a decent livelihood bestowed on us
by our creator. This is your birthright which has been earned again and again by your ancestors who risked their lives and sometimes made the ultimate
sacrifice. All they asked in return was a chance to put food on the table and to secure a better future for their children in generations to come. You are
asking nothing more. If the people in this building won't listen to reason then maybe they will listen to your lawyers, your representatives or thousands
(possibly millions) of other citizens who stand to lose by this unlawful and immoral privatization of the oceans.
The time for compromise is over. None of you can stand by while NOAA creates an
Ocean Stock Exchange for trading shares in fish futures like Wall Street trades in pork belly futures. So, lets all call for a halt to this insanity. Let us
file for an injunction against Catch Shares until the Fisheries Service can get their house in order and determine (for starters) which boats actually landed
how much fish. Let us demand to fish under the same restrictions as last year while the Fisheries Service gets their numbers straight. There is no evidence
that any species will risk collapse under those tight regulations. We simply cannot accept a radical change leading to an unjust system without even knowing
who gets how much fish and what happens to those who get nothing or not enough.
We all know that Catch Shares are premature and are not appropriate for all
fisheries, especially in New England. Before NOAA collapses the fishing fleet, and destroys the foundations of the fishing communities, let us demand our right
to assess the full socio-economic impacts. Let us demand to have our grievances addressed by an impartial body which doesn't increase its budget, its staff
and its square footage as more fishermen are put out of business.
I am not a fisherman, but I pledge to you that I will fight this corrupt and
unjust system by your side. Like Father Kocherry, I cannot be bought and I will not stop because that is the only way to ever win against this particular blend
of PEW pollution of Democracy.
Oct 31 09 3:18 PM
Oct 31 09 4:38 PM
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