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October 23, 2011

Brown: NOAA chief must go

As a first step in rebuilding the fishing industry's trust in federal regulation, Sen. Scott Brown has urged President Obama to fire NOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenco, whom he described as unaccountable and uninterested in the economic survival of fishermen.

Brown made the call in a rally Saturday morning at the Fisherman's Memorial on Stacy Boulevard.

Noting the bronze, iconic Man at the Wheel, Brown — flanked by Sen. Bruce Tarr, Mayor Carolyn Kirk, city councilors and industry leaders from as far away as Rhode Island, said, "I fear with her at the helm, this fisherman here will be the last one standing."

"I encourage the president to do it now," Brown said of dismissing Lubchenco.

NOAA officials over the weekend defended Lubchenco.

"Dr. Lubchenco understands these are extremely difficult times for fishermen and their families," said Justin Kenney, her spokesman.

"She has always sought to be a partner in the success of fishermen, to sustain fishing jobs, to create a profitable and healthy future for fishing communities and to maintain healthy marine fisheries."

To illustrate his point, Kenney recalled that Lubchenco agreed last week to a request by Sen. John Kerry that NOAA pick up for the 2012 fishing cycle the cost of at sea monitors for the groundfishing fleet, estimated by Kerry to be $7.5 million.

The monitoring was required in the new catch share regimen, instituted under the new requirement of the Magnuson-Stevens Act's reauthorization for hard catch limits with penalties.

But the thumbs-down Brown gave Lubchenco here Saturday — before about 100 onlookers — underscored a pre-existing bipartisan judgment against her by Democratic Congressmen John Tierney and Barney Frank who represent the ports of the Gloucester and New Bedford, respectively.

A third congressman who works closely with Tierney and Frank on fisheries issues and shares their view of Lubchenco as a failure is Republican Walter Jones of North Carolina.

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