Remember all that talk from the Obama administration about creating and saving jobs?
Remember those promises to get the economy moving again?
Forget it. Not here. Not in Gloucester — not in any New England community that's economically tied to the proud fishing industry; not anywhere in the nation where small-boat fishermen go about their trade to supply the nation and the world with seafood — and protein.
Around here, and across Ocean Nation, the Obama administration, through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, is all about destroying jobs and driving small business into bankruptcy in the name of protecting fish stocks that, in many cases, no longer need protection.
The new regulatory regime for commercial fishing known as "catch shares" will take effect Saturday morning — even though NOAA administrator Jane Lubchenco, others in her agency, fishermen, scientists and elected officials all agree that the changes — combined with absurdly tightened catch limits — will likely wipe out as many as half of the region's current commercial fishermen.
The catch limits and the new catch-share system will combine to place such draconian limits on fishing that it is expected to reduce the revenue from the groundfishery by 32 percent, according to the government's own numbers. The estimates of business failures in New England, most notably the fishing co-capitals of Gloucester and New Bedford, are being pegged at 50 percent or more.
And when the small commercial operations then have to sell their permits and equipment at pennies on the dollar to investors with enough economic strength to ride out the next few years, it will be those big investors who will reap windfall profits that will go somewhere else.
So when you start hearing about one fisherman after another going out of business, remember, this is not an accident.
This is not an unintended consequence. This is by design. This is intentional.
And it will be important to remember that, while the president and the heads of his other agencies are talking about job growth, his own rogue ocean agency, the "new" NOAA of Jane Lubchenco, could care less about our fishing businesses and fishing communities being devastated. She and her henchmen are not "allowing" it to happen — they have pressed hard to make it happen.
Lubchenco is ramming the catch share system into operation in spite of pleas from both the industry and members of Congress to delay it.
About a month ago, U.S. Sen. John Kerry and five congressmen, including John Tierney, D-Salem, petitioned the U.S. Secretary of Commerce for an emergency executive action to bring economic relief, at least through 2014, when stocks are expected to be rebuilt and the industry rebounds.
The letter also has the outspoken support of Republican U.S. Sen. Scott Brown, and there is word that Commerce Secretary Gary Locke is hosting a meeting with fishermen in the nation's capital next month.
But the bottom line is that nothing has changed. Lubchenco, apparently adopting the attitude of the jack-booted NOAA enforcement agents cited by the Inspector General's office, apparently believes she, too, is "accountable to no one."
The most appalling thing about this is that it is not really even about saving the fish. There is no evidence that the resource will collapse if half of the fishing fleet is not eliminated. In fact, the evidence points to commercial species populations rebounding.
Yet none of that matters to Lubchenco, who is obviously bent on wreaking further devastation on an already gutted industry.
And while she loves to pawn off responsibility for the crimes of her own law enforcement agency, noting that many of those actions predated her term, NOAA's tunnel-visioned, obsessive push for catch shares is entirely on her hands. That means the economic blood of fishermen and waterfront businesses driven into bankruptcy by this flawed policy is on her hands as well.
Remember this day. It is not even that fish are more important than people to this administration. It is that power — and their political agenda — is most important of all.
That's not just unforgettable — it is unforgivable as well.