Backed by about 100 fishermen and industry supporters at the Fishermen's Memorial "Man at the Wheel," U.S. Sen Scott Brown Saturday called for President Obama to fire NOAA chief administrator Jane Lubchenco, citing her "stonewalling of congressional oversight ...," her "unresponsiveness to official inquiries" and her ongoing push for a catch share management program that is "decimating our fleet."
Brown came to Gloucester and made his call during a 10 a.m. Saturday press conference that drew industry supporters from Gloucester, New Bedford and from Point Judith, R.I. Brown was joined in speaking by Mayor Carolyn Kirk, and by state Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr, R-Gloucester.
Brown's call on the president for Lubchenco's ouster comes three weeks after the NOAA chief had drawn fire from several parties for her testimony at an Oct. 3 U.S. Senate Commerce subcommittee hearing at the State House, and it comes amid a growing call for a change in National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration leadership from industry backers and lawmakers like Congressmen John Tierney and Barney Frank.
"With job losses accelerating, time is running out for our fishing communities, and Washington is too out of touch to notice," Brown told the gathering on Stacy Boulevard. "Not only has Administrator Lubchenco failed to help our fishing industry, she has made it worse.
"Just a few weeks ago, Administrator Lubchenco told us at a hearing in Boston that the fishing industry is on the rebound," he continued. "That incredible statement demonstrated a total lack of understanding of the situation in Gloucester, New Bedford, and across New England.
"I hoped that she would stick around to get the real facts from the fishermen and scientists assembled to testify after her," Brown added. "Instead, she left early."
As first reported in the Times, Lubchenco left the Senate subcommittee hearing early to meet with the editorial board at The Boston Globe.
"The stonewalling of congressional oversight in hearings and unresponsiveness to official inquiries is unacceptable," said Brown — who had Lubchenco turn down altogether a request to testify before another Senate subcommittee hearing he helped bring to Boston's Faneuil Hall in June. In that instance, she sent National Marine Fisheries Service head Eric Schwaab in her place.
"Most troubling, however, is Administrator Lubchenco's continued support for the catch-share management system that is decimating our fleet," Brown continued.
"Fishermen need the support of NOAA so they can stay in business, earn an honest living, and catch the food that so many of us in the Bay State and across the nation enjoy," he said. "Instead, what they have found is an unaccountable Washington agency that has appointed itself as judge, jury and executioner of our fishing communities.
"That attitude of indifference starts with Administrator Lubchenco," Brown said. "It's time for Administrator Lubchenco to go."
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