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October 17, 2011

NOAA chief's claims seen as 'dishonest'

The accuracy and integrity of NOAA administrator Jane Lubchenco's testimony to a Senate Commerce Committee earlier this month is being challenged once again — this time by the Cape Ann Fresh Catch, a program of the Gloucester Fisherman's Wives Association.

Cape Ann Fresh Catch Monday challenged as "disingenuous, dishonest and disrespectful to our community's fishing fleet" Lubchenco's written assertion that seemed to credit the catch share/sector groundfishery management regimen for helping to boost the Cape Ann Fresh Catch program.

Lubchenco's credibility in praising catch share fishing was questioned bluntly and repeatedly during the 2 1/2-hour Senate Commerce Committee field hearing, organized by Sen. John Kerry. Sanfilippo attended as an observer.

In questioning, Rep. Barney Frank disputed Lubchenco's written claim that "revenues are up for some but not all fishermen" under the catch share program.

Brian Rothschild, a marine scientist at University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth, submitted written testimony that challenged all of he essential claims by Lubchenco of a more profitable and efficient groundfishery via catch share sector management.

The Gloucester Fisherman's Wives Association — led by president Angela Sanfilippo, a nationally prominent advocate and strategist for the commercial fishing community — partnered with organizations including the Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance in 2008 and 2009 to organize the "fresh catch program. The project, with Turner's Seafood and MIT Sea Grant also as partners, is a community-based business model for direct delivery of fresh seafood to prepaid subscribers which lowers prices and increases margins, bypassing middlemen to the advantage of sellers and buyers.

In her 12 single-spaced pages of testimony and exhibits delivered to a field hearing of the Senate Commerce Committee at the State House on Oct. 3, organized by Sen. John Kerry, Lubchenco cited the Cape Ann Fresh Catch program to illustrate how "New England fishermen are beginning to realize new entrepreneurial opportunities under sector management."

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