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December 4, 2012

Editorial: Any fishery aid should come from NOAA, Commerce

Congressmen John Tierney, Barney Frank and William Keating — Massachusetts’ three U.S. House allies of the fishing industry — are certainly justified to try to ensure that the industry’s recognized “economic disaster” finally conceded by the Department of Commerce in September is entitled to disaster relief.

But with all due respect to them and their legislative colleagues, tacking any such aid onto a bill aimed at sending federal disaster aid to the Mid-Atlantic states still grappling with the after-effects of superstorm Sandy may be misplaced at best. And that’s not just because it would be a shame to complicate aid desperately needed for the storm-stricken people and communities in New York and coastal New Jersey.

Lumping in fishermen’s economic disaster aid with money going to recovery from a true natural disaster would miscast the fishery disaster as some sort of natural catastrophe as well, and it’s not. The New England and Northeast fishery disaster is a man-made, intentional economic collapse that was not just caused, but truly engineered by NOAA and administrator Jane Lubchenco, who, still propped up by the White House, have driven Gloucester’s, New England’s and America’s own fishermen right out of their jobs and their way of life while the president himself hypocritically proclaims he wants “jobs, jobs, jobs” for American working families.

The idea of Acting Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank declaring an “economic disaster” without even hinting at offering any money or other solutions for addressing it is absurd in the first place. But no more so than her failure to even suggest that NOAA’s mad science and built-to-fail catch share management policies are at the root of the problem.

In their letter to the Appropriations panel, Tierney and his colleagues note that, “if a supplemental disaster assistance bill is not considered, we then ask that sufficient fishery disaster assistance be included as part of any final fiscal year 2013 appropriations bill that provides funding for the Department of Commerce.”

That indeed is the right approach. Any true aid to address this admitted economic disaster should come from the appropriations for NOAA and Commerce — the folks who, after all, created it right from the start.

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