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August 1, 2010

Lubchenco to hold summit on enforcement

Alienated from the New England and Mid-Atlantic fishing community and its pivotal congressional representatives, the Obama administration fisheries chief convenes a one-day national law enforcement summit Tuesday in Washington, D.C., in an attempt to pick up the pieces of a scandalized law enforcement.

The event brings together invited representatives of other law enforcement agencies, environmental non-government organizations, fishing groups, industry lawyers and indigenous people.

The event begins at 9 a.m. with opening remarks by Jane Lubchenco, President Obama's choice to head the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The summit arrives with her relationship with a Who's Who of influential senators and representatives from Maine to the Gulf states estranged at best.

But Lubchenco has chosen to focus the summit on "improving compliance" and "developing forward-looking strategies to advance ... enforcement."

It will be podcast from the Web site of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The public was not invited to attend the summit at the Hamilton Crowne Plaza Hotel, but can catch the webcast at http://noaaenforcementsummit2010.ecr.gov.

Fishing industry advocates led by Massachusetts Congressman Barney Frank, who got a kiss of thanks from the President after he signed the financial regulation reform package two weeks ago, have abandoned efforts to work with Lubchenco and her official superior, Commerce Secretary Gary Locke.

The frustration has moved the impasse between the administration and the industry to the Oval Office.

Frank and Congressman John Tierney, who represent the fishing ports of New Bedford and Gloucester, respectively, asked the White House to sack Lubchenco, but were told that Obama would keep her on the job.

Within the industry, she is widely thought to share the anti-fishing bias of a group of hard-line conservationist scientists and academics. When appointed to head NOAA, Lubchenco was a high official in the Environmental Defense Fund which has been the vanguard for converting the common wealth of the wild schools of fish into investor-friendly commodities — a system known as catch shares.

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