GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

Breaking News

Latest Cape Ann News

July 1, 2011

Judge: System not clear-cut enough to force referendum

U.S. District Judge Rya Zobel rejected a dozen challenges to the legality or propriety of Amendment 16, the radical reorganization of the New England groundfishery into a hybridized system based on business cooperatives.

The system allocated fish to those who work with negotiable catch shares, while the less fortunate within the fleet who "chose" to remain independent operators were marginalized in the common pool using the old-fashioned days-at-sea system.

In acts of deep judicial deference, Zobel discounted or dismissed plaintiffs' insistence that the system was fatally flawed by the government's biasing the allocation to favor special groups and failure to heed a national standard requiring assessment of social and economic impacts of the regimen, and other steps the plaintiffs asserted the government skipped or took too lightly.

But arguments by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Conservation Law Foundation that the government did its due diligence were convincing to the judge on these secondary issues.

Only the pivotal matter of the nature of the program — was it really a catch share commodity system or something just short of that? — seemed to cause the judge difficulty.

If a true Limited Access Privilege Program, a LAPP, or an Individual Fishing Quota, an IFQ, then by an amendment sponsored by Congressman Barney Frank to the 2006 reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the system would need to go to a referendum before going into effect.

Frank wrote the amendment to prevent back-door introduction of catch shares.

Catch shares almost always produce a small number of big winners and a large number of losers as the equity in the fishery is commodified, distributed according to some formula referencing past fishing history and at times other considerations, and then traded to create a more efficient economic model.

From Sen. John Kerry and others have come complaints about the mal-distribution of wealth from the kind of catch share transformation introduced to the groundfishery in 2010.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Latest Cape Ann News

Pictures of the Week
Your news, your way
Comments Tracker
AP Video Network
Raw: Gunmen Attack Iraqi Prison Convoy Plane Leaves Ukraine With More Crash Victims The Rock Brings Star Power to Premiere Raw: Families Travel to Taiwan Plane Crash Site Arizona Execution Takes Almost Two Hours Gen. Odierno Discusses Ukraine, NATO at Forum Gaza Fighting Rages Amid Cease-Fire Efforts Mint Gives JFK Coin a Face-lift Creative Makeovers for Ugly Cellphone Towers Ariz. Inmate Dies 2 Hours After Execution Began Crash Kills Teen Pilot Seeking World Record LeBron James Sends Apology Treat to Neighbors Raw: Funeral for Man Who Died in NYPD Custody Migrants Back in Honduras After US Deports Israeli American Reservist Torn Over Return