GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

Fishing Industry Stories

April 2, 2013

White House mute as fishing's future hangs

A month before the fishing culture of the Northeast — running from Maine to New York but based here in Gloucester and New Bedford — faces severe constraints or immobilization by extreme limits on landings, the Obama White House Monday remained mute and continued to distance himself from the federally recognized “economic disaster” wrought in large part by the president’s own administration as efforts to provide relief go nowhere fast.

Most Massachusetts Democrats in Congress tick off letters written and legislation filed to relieve the crisis.

But most have blamed House Republicans for blocking a $150 million disaster relief package that was hurriedly glued to a $60 billion Hurricane Sandy relief appropriation in the lame duck session last year.

At the same time, most Democrats refuse to acknowledge that Obama has never said a word about the need to help the fishermen who found themselves integrated — mostly against their will — into an industry re-engineered as a catch share and quota commodity market that has forced smaller independent boats to bow out of the business.

One exception has been Congressman John Tierney, whose 6th District includes Gloucester and all of Cape Ann.

“The administration has not been responsive enough to the plight of the families and businesses impacted by conditions in the fishing industry in the Northeast, and in Gloucester particularly,” Tierney said Monday in a prepared statement. “I have repeatedly pressed this matter and will continue to do so at every opportunity.

“While it is appreciated that the White House and the Department of Commerce did, at our request, issue the emergency declaration,” he added, “much more needs to be done, and we continue to seek a stronger involvement from the administration as we pursue strategies to resolve the critical issues facing our fishing community.”

For his part, Obama has continued to distance himself from the policies and their architect, the celebrated scientist Jane Lubchenco, who quietly stepped down as NOAA administrator at the end of February. The White House press office did not respond to a request for any statement issued evaluating or commemorating Lubchenco’s four years at NOAA on the president’s nomination.

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