, Gloucester, MA

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January 10, 2012

Catch share 'study' bid reunites old ties

It was back in 2004 that Jane Lubchenco — then an entrepreneurial scientist, now President Obama's administrator of oceans and atmosphere — was wooing the Intel founders' foundation to help finance one of her projects, a pan-university research organization known by the acronym PISCO.

The Partnership for Indisciplinary Studies of Coastal Oceans, which she co-founded in 1999, has prospered — with grants estimated at more than $100 million, primarily from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and the Lucille and David Packard Foundation — and links dozens of researchers from multiple West Coast campuses.

Now, the Moore Foundation — patriarch Gordon Moore helped found the processing giant Intel — has decided to reach its own conclusion about the efficacy of catch shares in practice.

It has commissioned a five-year assessment of the system, funded by a $2.7 million grant to MRAG Americas — whose president, marine scientist and NOAA's former Northeast chief, Andrew Rosenberg, cites Lubchenco as a reference on his resume.

Since 2004, PISCO's foundation and scientific partners have pushed the nation to control fishing, privatize the ocean's resources in the name of conservation, and contending that commodification and fish share trading would save revitalize the oceans and spawn an economic golden age of harvest from the sea.

According to PISCO documents examined by the Times, the PISCO business plan for the years 2010 through 2014 is to integrate science and economics to "create incentives for marine reserves through catch shares — and vice versa."

Now, the process has brought catch shares to the New England groundfishery, with what Gov. Deval Patrick, U.S. Sens. John Kerry and Scott Brown and Congressmen Barney Frank and John Tierney, as well as a large contingent of scientists and fishermen, contend has been an economic "disaster" for he region's ports, including Gloucester.

The governor's filing in November of socio-economic studies of accelerating consolidation and job loss along with a request for a disaster declaration remain on the desk of federal Commerce Secretary John Bryson.

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