The mayors of Gloucester and New Bedford on Wednesday sent letters to all 100 U.S. senators to drum up support for the House-passed budget amendment that would cut off the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's spending on new catch share programs in the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico.
Seeking to halt the spread of catch shares, a system that is "crippling the lives of groundfishermen in the South Atlantic, Mid-Atlantic, New England and Gulf of Mexico," Mayors Carolyn Kirk and Scott Lang wrote that the Senate could strike a blow for the owner-operator, small-business model against investor influences and the corporatization of the fisheries.
The mayors noted NOAA's relentless push to convert the New England groundfishery to a catch share management system.
The letter identified the Environmental Defense Fund as the "chief proponent" of the change. EDF's former vice chairwoman, Jane Lubchenco, came to office as head of the NOAA in 2009, pushing for a quick approval of the New England catch share plan.
Due to the market dynamics which encourage the trading in allocated shares of the stocks, barely one half of New England's independent fishing boats were active in the first 11 months of the catch share experience, and one-fifth of the working boats accounted for 61 percent of revenues.
Lubchenco has said that one of her goals is seeing a "significant fraction" of the fleet decommissioned. And EDF is known for its partnership with corporate interests, including Wal-Mart and Kohlberg, Kravis, and Roberts LLC, an equity investment partnership that pioneered leveraged buyouts.
Both mayors were in U.S. District Court in Boston on Tuesday for oral arguments in a broad-based industry suit against Amendment 16, which instituted the catch share regimen to the groundfishery.
The House last month voted 251-151 to cut off spending on new catch share programs, now budgeted at $54 million.
The amendment by Rep. Walter Jones, a North Carolina Republican, remains in limbo along with the continuing budget resolution.
Richard Gaines can be reached at 978-283-7000 x3464, or at email@example.com.